The chief financial concern for most Americans is retirement funding. The low U.S. savings rate makes the reality of poverty in retirement all too real for many Americans. The coming retirement savings crisis should have everyone worried about the quality of life they will lead in retirement.
I've always been an advocate of taking control of your financial future by managing your own money. Unfortunately, we all contribute a large percentage of our paychecks into an inefficient and crumbling Social Security system. If we only could control the way our Social Security contributions could be invested. This may sound like a pipe dream, and it may still be, but there is a bill that proposes just that.Mutual Fund Trade Association, Investment Company Institute (ICI)is supporting a bill, the Simpson-Kerrey bill, that would allow you to invest two percent of your Social Security withholdings into a self-directed Personal Investing Plan (PIP). That's right, you would be able to put two of seven percent that you contribute to Social Security into the investment of your choice.
Think of how much you could improve your financial security by taking control of your Social Security contributions. You could invest in real growth vehicles like stock funds instead of the fake government IOUs that are currently the recipient of your dollars. Two percent invested into stock funds would probably fund a comfortable retirement for most Americans and it would take the pressure off the Social Security system.
President of ICI, Matthew Fink, said in congressional testimony last week, "This legislation is a thoughtful and timely proposal to enhance our current pay-as-you-go Social Security system by introducing an element of individual saving. A self-directed account incorporating the best features of the IRA is the optimal means for achieving partial funding of our Social Security system."
Fink might be a little biased because he envisions billions of dollars flowing into the mutual fund companies that he represents, but nonetheless, the ability to take control of your financial life and invest in vehicles suitable for long-term growth would be one of the best things to happen to Americans since the introduction of Individual Retirement Accounts.
WRITE/CALL YOUR CONGRESSPERSON. The Simpson-Kerrey bill is nowhere close to passage and it's a long shot at best. Our politicians and government bureaucrats need the Social Security surplus to pay for other programs and to make our federal deficit appear smaller than it really is. To combat their vested interest in keeping control of "our" money, a strong grassroots campaign is a must.
You need to take the time to write or call each of your elected officials and tell them how important this bill is to the financial health of all Americans. The ability to control your own Social Security account would allow millions of Americans to retire with dignity and financial independence.
"Americans are too dumb to handle their own affairs," will be the excuse that politicians will use when criticizing this bill. Yes, many Americans are inexperienced investors but just as many, if not more Americans have made the commitment to educate themselves and become knowledgeable, independent investors. They don't give you the credit you deserve, nor do they respect your intelligence as I do.
Don't use the Simpson-Kerrey bill as an excuse to postpone your retirement savings plan. I'm afraid that not enough of you will take action and insist that your elected officials vote in favor of this bill. Don't wait - take action by utilizing IRAs, 401 , SEPs and other retirement plans and funding them to their fullest extent. If you wait for our politicians to come to their senses, you'll die an old and very poor person.