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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/i-dont-know-why-this-is-a-surprise-to-anyone-25011185.aspx

Subject:  Re: The Net Worth of American Households Date:  1/8/2007  8:58 AM
Author:  Lokicious Number:  19347 of 35275

I don't know why this is a surprise to anyone.

With the decline of defined pension plans, it has been clear the bottom half has little chance of saving enough to retire at 65, if ever, and sustain a middle class lifestyle, even if they had enough income while working to qualify in some way as "middle class." And, that's those who do manage to save 10% of their wages/salary.

I'm very critical of people who make $100,000 or more and can't seem to put away $20,000 a year, but I don't think it is fair to criticize those who make $50,000 with a family of 4 and manage to save $5000, especially if they live in an expensive population center, which is where most of the jobs are.

Someone retiring with about $35,000-$40,000 in expenses, including taxes, which is hardly extravagent, with Social Security, having $500,000 in net worth entering retirement, would have an initial withdrawal rate of about 5%. That's plausibly sustainable with an age appropriate asset allocation if markets provide historical returns, but 4% is more like the consensus "safe withdrawal rate," and those of us who consider optimism a terminal disease would prefer 3% or less. In other words, even though a net worth of $500,000 is near the top and something most people can only wish for, it is certainly not an amount that makes someone rich. Neither is a million, which may have been a fortune when they wrote pop songs in the '20s or the Depression, but is now the equivalent of 100 million or so.
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