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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