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What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?
August 9th, 2012
01:49 PM ET

What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Turns out the golden years aren't so golden anymore for a lot of people.

A new study finds that many Americans die with "virtually no financial assets.” For more than 46% of us, that translates into less than $10,000.

The study - put out by a nonpartisan outfit called the National Bureau of Economic Research - finds that many Americans spend their golden years dependent on the government.

Researchers say many older Americans have no housing wealth and rely almost entirely on Social Security.

Since many seniors have so little in financial assets, they are unprepared to deal with unanticipated financial needs, such as major health-related expenses. Things like entertainment and travel are out of the question.

All this raises more questions about the future of Social Security.

If the government were to reduce benefits for seniors, it could directly affect the day-to-day lives of millions of older Americans who rely on these payments just to get by.

This study also highlights a connection between health and wealth, finding that healthier seniors are likely to have more assets than those who aren't as healthy. And, no surprise here, wealthier seniors are likely to live longer than poorer seniors.

One more thing to remember: Marriage might help you out in old age. According to the report, single seniors had a significantly lower median wealth than continuously married senior citizens. For some of us, that would seem to be counter intuitive.

Here's my question to you: What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Posted by
Filed under: Cafferty File • Economy • Jack Cafferty
soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. DT - Saint Paul, MN

    Why didn't they all give their scraps of savings to the closest millionaire they could find? There's plenty of economic theory out there saying they could have been rich if they would have.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  2. Loren, Chicago

    Nothing unless a context is given. How does this compare to the rest of the world? If we're in the same league as the rest of the developed world, then nothing, but if we lag, then we need to see what the change has been over time and then we can address it. Statistics are meaningless unless they are put in context.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Karl in Flint, MI

    It means the Bush tax cuts, banks running wildly uncontrolled and Romney's years of exporting jobs while at Bain have been a rousing success. The only way I'll die with 10K in assets is if this house I bought off foreclosure, for $9600.00, appreciates to $10K before I die.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  4. jk in MN

    The Trickle up policies of the Republicans has really worked. It's shameful.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  5. James - Alexandria, VA

    It means the 1% have won the class warfare battle.....which is what the GOP wants.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  6. Gary in San Jose, California

    It means most Americans are broke by the time they die and I bet most of them regret their wasteful spending earlier in life. Why is it so difficult for Americans to save? Citizens of poor countries save a much higher percentage of their income and they have less to begin with.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  7. Jenna Roseville CA

    What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?

    It means that the 99% of Americans have little to nothing where as the top 1% have too much.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    August 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  8. Sean B

    It means that a handful of people are now dying with obscene sums of assets.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  9. NurseLisa in CT

    It means the cost of end of life care especially if long-term and around the clock, is incredibly high; and it means that people lose so much of their retirement funds, on the stock market when frauds lead to ridiculous plunges, that reverse mortgages eat up equity and there is little is left for the heirs. Basically it means the middle class is paying the lion's share percentage of taxes and health care costs while the rich get richer by avoiding paying taxes. I'm with Warren Buffet that we need this law: if the national debt is >3% of GDP then noone in the House or Senate can be reelected..

    August 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  10. BrainTurnedOff

    This half of the Americans are actually smart. You can't take your assets with you into your grave. And do you really want to hand over your assets to your children you hate, or even worse, to the government? Even if you hope you're reborn later, there is no chance to get your assets back in your future lifetime.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  11. Ken in Pinon Hills, California

    It means the endless need for profit in a heavily rigged marketplace perpetuates inflation that almost half of Americans cannot afford in a lifetime. Example, my first car required gasoline that cost 14 cents a gallon.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  12. Tonybottomline

    To much spending, not enough saving; of course it would be good to know why?

    August 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Doug Ericson

    If folks have little or no assets when they die, it implies they were struggling to survive financially before they passed away. And no family trickle down to the kids, means a lot of kids without an inheritence to put back into the economy. Its not a good thing, and another indication that our reckless Government needs to back off in size, and stop squeezing the last penny out of the average citizen. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  14. Pat in Michigan

    Jack .My mother in law worked and retired and lived frugally to age 87. my wife worked with her finances budgeting what little income and savings she had. in the end we who were still working had to suppliment the shortfall. I believe most families are in this boat because wall st. robbed us of our savings and pensions and investments . this has become all to commonplace .
    I don't believe electing someone who made his fortune destroying others fortunes is the guy I want for president.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  15. Think for yourself in Ok

    It means someone has shirked their responsibility.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  16. Lee in Wyoming

    It means we are doing better than most people on the planet. We get to complain about it! In spite of greed, outsourcing, tax and law loopholes, cheating, politicians, etc. -- yep, I for one am proud to be an American, at least I know I'm free.........

    August 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  17. John from Alabama

    Jack: Most people in this world die owing money to others. American citizens may die with less than $10,000.00 in assets, but they are better off than 90% of the rest of this world's population. It's not how much money you have when you die that is important, but rather what a person does with their life to enrich others. A life well spend is better than a fat bank account.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  18. Boomer in Mo

    Americans are poorly educated when it comes to money. People live beyond their means. Other people are proud they live "within" their means. The real way to accumulate a nest egg for comfortable retirement is to live beneath your means. A minimum of 10 percent of your income should be socked away for your old age. Even workers of modest means have hundreds of thousands of dollars pass through their hands during their working lives. If they spend it all, they will end up being old, frail and destitute.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  19. Thinks2010

    It means a number of things. It is a symptom of the concentration of wealth at the top; the lack of financial education received by the majority of people in this country resulting in a lack of financial planning; a cultural tendency to live close to or beyond one's means; a lot of spending on ephemera; fewer longterm and well paying jobs with retirement benefits across most education and skill levels; incomes, savings and assets depleted by skyrocketing medical costs; the mortgage debacle; and growing poverty in this country. There are probably more contributing factors because things are usually more complex than we think. -- From Northern California

    August 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  20. Ed from California

    At least, the owners of the following are rich...Oil companies, Defence companies, Health Care companies, Telecommunication companies, Bankers, Wall st executives, Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, the Koch brothers, the Waltons....our "hired help"....so all isn't lost. What does it mean that half of America has less than ten "g's" in the bank? Well maybe Willard will make it all better.....better for himself and his donors, that is. You get what you vote for!!

    August 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  21. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    It means that some people, actually most people are not leaving anything to their kids, good for them, spend it while you can since we can't take it with us. It also means that the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are in a ditch to deep to get out of.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  22. Darla Eighmey

    It's really quite simple. When you are spending what capital you have on disposable goods and services you have less money to invest in hard assets. If you look at Maslow's hierarchy, it's pretty easy to see why there are so many angry people out there.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  23. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    It means we need to return to unions and the idea of a living wage. It means we need to set up regulations to prevent vulture capitalist from stealing workers pensions. It means we need Elizabeth Warren's safeguards on Wall Street to protect pensions from fraudulent triple A rated stocks. It means we need to elect Warren to prevent future Bernie Madoffs.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  24. Jane in CA

    It means they should have had a big party on their last day. Assuming they lived a full life, and lived as long as they wanted to live, they had just enough. If they died because they couldn't pay for medical treatment, or food, well, that is a condemnation of the society we live in.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  25. Jen seattle wa

    It means the u.s. govt promotes us to world as wealthiest while the lies are exposed by fact most are broke and cant afford qualitative first world but can compare a second rate to the 3rd world and compare a lessor of ,then drink and think its bettor than nothing.and It might show some are savvy about protecting their money from the parasites in govt

    August 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  26. David, Tampa

    It means we bought into the spend spend spend, live well beyond your means, keep up with the Jones's life style to give our children that better life our parents tried to give us, I'm a baby boomer. We worked hard, played hard, paid outrageously for bigger houses in upscale neighborhoods that took up more and more income, bought into designed obsolescence from the auto industry and got lost in self consumption. We passed these qualities along to the next generation. Problem was most of us couldn't keep up income pace, and the whole thing started crumbling around us. My parents from the "greatest generation" did manage to slip into my value system the need to watch every penny, nickle and dime and I am now putting those lesson to good use trying to recover from economic bad times. Get used to bad times ladies and gents, things may get better for awhile but will also get worse again.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  27. Liz. Florida

    Jack, My husband & I are retired. Life is sweet. We travel when we want. See a medical professional when necessary. We never made lots of money but started saving for retirement in our 20s. For all those seniors who choose not to save all I can say is bet they wish they had!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  28. Vincent Farruggio

    I knew ever since Clinton signed the free trade bill it was going to be a form treason. All our problems we are having today is a direct result of it then you throw bush and a do nothing president into it the equation and we are screwed. for me all i can say is its a good day today. i dont about tomorrow.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  29. David of Alexandria VA

    There's probably no one-size fits all answer to this, Jack. Some had hard lives, some had massive final medical bills, and I'm sure some just did some great planning. But, to some degree, it says that a lot of people didn't plan very well. Either they didn't think they'd live as lng or they never got the basic education about how much money yo9u have to have in the ank to maintain your standard of living in perpetuity. Interesting that the $40K pension your town librarian gets probably is backed by over a million bucks in savings. Kind of puts the idea of being a millionaire in a different light. The financial wonks are really not kidding when they say you should start saving dilligently and early.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  30. JD in NH

    Who cares? They're dead. They don't need any more money. I say we all run up our credit cards just before we die, too, and screw the big banks.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  31. Jack

    Actually, as the last few decades have gone by there is not too much incentive to acquire assets since housing, retirement plans, savings and others have all been robbed in one fashion or another. Going out so that the cash curve and end of life curves both meet at zero sounds like a fair plan! Anything left over the boys in charge are glad to get whatever they can. Cha ching !

    August 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  32. ken from connecticut

    Maybe they haven't saved enough, if they could have saved to begin with. Or maybe the price of everything is way to high, and the gov't is bleeding us dry. I call this country "a rip-off country". It's a testamony to the state of the union.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  33. calaurore9

    I've been married for 30 years and I will have someone to drive the mortgaged RV when we run out of dough. Soon.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  34. Kevin in CA

    It means that the 1 percenters need to re-double their efforts to obtain 99 percent indenturement.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  35. Factchkr

    It means you did well. You can't take it with you.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  36. David R Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    SimpleJack and don't take my word for it do your homework.Congress drains every penny every dine every twig from
    the working class to waste and waste and build the good ole boy system.As we speak Jack......they are on a 30 day vacation after only having worked one month this year.Yet the working parents of this great nation toil and toil and they are paying for the fat cat vacation Jack paying for 3000$ a night suites 100$ dinners.So Jack the answer to the question is WE HAVE NO MONEY NONE TO SAVE CONGRESS HAS WASTED AND SQUANDERED EVERY DIME WE HAVE YET WE TOIL AND TOIL AND THEY NOW WANT MORE TAX TO PAY FOR THEIR WASTE. THIS HAS TO BE A JOKE
    David

    August 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  37. JB

    Single seniors have lower average wealth beause, in part, they are divorced and that ruins most people financially

    August 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  38. Connie in Tennessee

    It means that they were smart to give their heirs something while they were alive and not wait until they die and everyone owes a lot of taxes.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  39. Derek

    It means those seniors planned it out right.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  40. AndyG

    It means that America has become one giant company town.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  41. N Ford

    "What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?"

    It means the foundational principles of modern America (take care of you and yours at all costs) are an unmitigated success. It is hard enough to worry about myself, why should I worry about someone else? Yeah America!!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  42. JM from DFW

    If Americans spend money, we may create a job (if it has not been outsourced).

    The lack of education (understanding), leads to no purpose, as a result, no plan.

    We take everything from those that are less fortunate, and give to the Rich.

    After all, these people don't create jobs!

    Republican Moment!

    Jack, if we can increase this number to 75%, we can create more jobs!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  43. Dr Jeff Thompson

    It means we have all been robbed and our government has consistently mismanaged the funds of the nation to line their own pockets and cow-tow to special interest groups who take precedence over the American people's welfare. Pure and Simple greed and payola.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  44. Madrigal

    well, if I hadn't had two pensions pulled from under me, and half my retirement fund erased in the Crash, I might not have to depend solely on SS. But I'm 65, it would be just about all I have if I didn't have have a husband who gets SS.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  45. Food4Thought2

    Cause & Effect: The majority of Americans are financially stupid; they don't live within their means. The sense of entitlement is growing and growing, at all income levels. It's not an issue of income (for he grand majority), but rather a spending problem. I deserve a bigger house. I need the newest phone. I want a new car.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  46. Mary

    I had 2 family members who were middle class, but when they became were stricken with Alzheimer and needed
    full-time care; all their assets were used up. So close to the end of their life, they had to live on Social Security and Medicaid.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  47. LP

    Ideally, we'd all die with NO assets, having lived just long enough to use up what we have. Having stuff left when you die doesn't benefit you, it benefits your heirs.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  48. Kim , Dodge City, Kansas

    I'll bet my bottom dollar that the real number is much higher than 48%. You simply can not keep raising the cost of living, which is driven by demand for higher corporate profits every fiscal quarter, without raising wages and income. So, in essence, I guess the numbers mean that corporate profit margins are more important the actual human beings. What a sad, shameful country we live in. Elect Romney, and it will rapidly get worse.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  49. Pete in Georgia

    It means the level of taxation, costly regulations, and government corruption has been strangling the life out of the American free enterprise system for at least the past 40 years.......................and is ten times worse today than ever before.
    The Federal Government is ruining the American standard of living for 70% of WORKING, RESPONSIBLE people just to guarantee the remaining 30% who have no desire to contribute to anything a free ride from cradle to grave.
    What we have is the biggest example of dereliction of decency and duty by government in the history of mankind.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  50. John Hargis

    It means the government has found a way for Americans to cover their own burial expenses Jack. If we don't find some answers, well, leaders who will foresake Party to serve the public trust with honor, we are lost. John Farmville Va

    August 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  51. TWiG

    A healthy man was given a cane. He developed a limp and then became dependant on that cane.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  52. bao

    Quick! Tax them a $10,000 'death' fee. We can't have people dying with any money!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  53. sativa619

    Jack,

    Money is not important to the deceased. It means only that the greedy vultures who are the living will be S.O.L. if they think they're gunna be able to simply wait til relatives die to get money.

    Matt, San Diego, CA

    August 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  54. Stewart

    There is nothing wrong with dying broke...
    Live a little..
    Maybe the kids and fellow church folks can help out.
    Even warren buffet is only worth 1percent of his total....he gave the other 99 percent to gates foundation...
    And buffet certainly doesn't spend any money...free food stamps (executive) wherever he goes...
    Owns the jet company too..
    Who is traveling at 75 years old??
    Why would u need anything other than social security..
    Health care....ask your own kids and church folks to pick up the tab.... Oh oh....u no what's next !!

    University pick up the body program and skip the funeral scam too!

    Minneapolis
    STEWpid news is spreading..

    August 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  55. Patricia in Texas

    At age 60, I've been on SS disability for 5 years because of Crohn's disease. My savings is gone; my house is gone. If I died now, I'd have NO assets, except some personal items. Life doesn't always work out as planned.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  56. Jenny Sills from Rome Georgia

    That they are spending all their assets on healthcare!
    !

    August 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  57. Becky

    It means that my husband and i will be supporting my in-laws while raising two kids and finishing school ourselves. it also means that we are saving – a lot – for our own retirement.
    Ephrata, PA

    August 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  58. MathProf

    I taught mathematics and paid into FICA for 38 years. My first year's salary in 1971 was the fine sum of exactly $7050. I then paid $12K to obtain a mandatory Master's degree (NY) within my first 5 years. All of my college educated friends made 2-3 times what I made, each and every year. All of a sudden, teachers, cops and firemen all "make too much money". GTH, and don't touch my SS.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  59. David

    It means too many people fail to plan. Too many people live for the moment. Do you really need that 3rd TV (or first, for that matter) when you don't have a retirement set aside? Answer: No!

    And you can't blame this on the recent downturn. Anyone that knows anything about financial planning would advise a significant reduction in assets in the stock market as you approach retirement. these seniors and current retirees should have benefitted by having a higher portion of the nest egg in gold, bonds, and lower risk assets than the general population.

    Moral of the story? Plan for tomorrow if you want one worth living.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  60. Ron WPAFB

    It means the rich are getting richer off the backs of the workers, and the workers are getting sick and dying!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  61. Racoon

    It means they planned their retirement well, and had few assets remaining when they died.
    Nashville, TN

    August 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  62. kd4ttc

    It is interesting to set up a spreadsheet and see what a person earning median income would have after 40 years if they just saved 10% of gross income and put it into the stock market. Over 8 million dollars. Sure, you have to adjsut for inflation over 40 years, but that comes to about $2 million adjusted for inflation. Real estate people want you to put one third of gross into housing. The old conservative approach is 25% into housing and 10% into savings. That way you get a house and multiple millions of dollars.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  63. IRS

    Sounds like they planned it perfectly. No sense in dying with $100,000.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  64. GaryB

    It also means that most of the people who get all worked up about the inheritance tax (which conservatives love to call the death tax) have absolutely nothing to be worried about. Of course, the fact is, unless you're in the top four or five percent of wealthiest Americans, you still don't have anything to worry about.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  65. JP

    I don't see why this is a problem. It actually sounds like people are coming out about perfect. Why do you need to die with more than $10K in assets, you can't take it with you?!! Also, everyone relies on Social Security because THAT'S WHAT IT'S THERE FOR! If you are forced to pay into a retirement system, you would be stupid not to use it in your golden years. It's like complaining that you used up almost all of your retirement savings before you died. Who cares? It's your money!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  66. awasis

    There is nothing wrong with SS. Politicians stole trillions form it that will never be paid back.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  67. Nari

    I can die with ZERO.. we are not taking money with us to heaven or hell... STUPID HEADLINE.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  68. Seattledude

    It means that 46% of us either did not save enough money, or are comfortable with our lifestyles with social security and medicaid.

    It could also be that those 46% depend on the next generation (kids and grandkids) to provide for them, as they were provided for when they were young.

    It does not mean that the other 54% owe the 46% anything.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  69. Bob from West Virginia

    It means we are a much poorer nation than we may have thought earlier. It reinforces the 1% versus the 99% issues. It means the new retirement program should be the "drop program" (work till you drop dead).

    August 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  70. Ferde Grofe'

    If the Govt would let seniors take their Medicare subsidy off shore at half the paymernt indexing for Medicare cost numbers for the US based medical industry, we would be saving hundreds of billions of tax dollars simply because of cheaper and often excellent medical attention in other countries, thus cutting Medicare costs which are escalating and unlikely to see any reductions. Of course that would mean a couple of million retired Americans would opt to leave the US leaving a big hole in the profits of the AMA,ADA, Pharmaceutical, insurance and retirement industries. So who comes first in the priorities of support? Retired Americans or big biz?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  71. Mitt Romney

    It means that millionaires and billionaires deserve a huge tax break.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  72. Wait..What?

    why should we die with assets? Only the government will benefit with all of their death taxes at every level. Might as well give it away or use it while you are living. What a ridiculous article but typical of CNN.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  73. Jim

    What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets? It means that more than half of Americans die with more than $10,000 in assets.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  74. Howard

    It means that the government is creating an environment where dependency on the government is the norm. Our forefathers believed in a land of opportunity where anything is possible and the government was to provide some structure and some order...We need to get the pride back, we need to become more positive..but with leaders who say "we didn't create that, the government did" why not just settle for the handout. You can get a government supplied cell phone with 250 minutes if your income is under a certain amount....What does it say the average American has less than $10,000 when they die....it says we have become dependent on the government...

    August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  75. Eli

    Half of Americans are dying in poverty. They've worked their whole lives, paid their taxes, and have nothing to show for it. We, as a country, have failed to care for our countrymen. We, as a country, have failed to care for ourselves.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  76. Georgia from Pennsylvania

    Simply put Jack, it means this country is in bigger doo-doo than any of us could possibly imagine- plus think about how many Americans die with absolutely nothing.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  77. Tebojockey

    This is because society is structued so that very few people get anywhere or acquire wealth. In recent years, I have heard the saying that you should go out either haveing a million dollars or owing a million dollars. As for social secutiy, since I was a boy we were always told that "this is for your retirement so you will have something." Now, everyone is being told "don't count on this money and start saving." Wait a tick...I didn't give up that social security wage voluntarily, the government took it from me without so much as a "by your leave." Was it paying into a fund or was it a tax? If you are now going to call it a tax, I should be able to get some of it refunded by filing. No, scratch that...if you're going to tell me not to count on it, I want every darn penny back right now and I'll invest it much better than the government could. Thieves, one and all!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  78. Anthony

    Well Jack what can you expect. Most Americans dont have a concept of savings, but I have the money now and need to spend idea. We all race for the promotions and try to excell in our careers to make more money so we can spend it faster. The 401ks that companies offer are used, but even then only viewed as another checking account that a company might match. Folks are taking out loans and Hardship withdraws, and complain when they cant take the money while they are still working. Its a RETIREMENT account.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  79. James Las Vegas

    My grandparents are purposefully planning on dying broke and are giving their inheritance away while still alive for two reasons. One so that they can watch their children and grandchildren enjoy it, and two so that they can avoid the estate tax at the time of their passing. I know that is not what the study intends to show, but people like my grandparent would skew the statistics.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  80. Roy

    It means society is on the brink of destruction becuase of the distribution of wealth. If you take into account all the fraud, wars, greed and add it up math, you wouldn't be able to sleep at night.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  81. Chris

    It sounds like good planning. They spent all the money they earned and have enough left over for a funeral.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  82. JP

    Also, when you get older you generally tend to sell big homes and move into assisted living or retirement homes. There goes a lot of asset value right there, assuming they even owned the home at that point. The cost of nursing homes is outrageous and eats up assets very quickly. A single elderly person may eat up $35K/yr in an assisted living center, whereas they were able to get by on less than $20K when functioning on their own. This article also mentions "if the gov't were to reduce benefits" it would impact the senior's finances; well hell, that applies to anyone and everyone! If the insurance companies, or place of employment, or gov't reduces the benefit payout/terms, then people pay more out of pocket. It's not an epidemic only affecting the elderly.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  83. Smart

    It means their death was well timed.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  84. ScottW

    How much of the average person's assets go to retirement or nursing homes in the final chapter? We need an Affordable Eldercare Act....

    August 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  85. Synapse

    Jack- It proves that :
    - No one is invincible [as the Libertarians and "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" crowd think]
    - Life slaps most people upside the head [health & unforeseen accident issues, for example]... and
    - Our country needs universal health care [like almost every other 1st world country]
    - Glass-Steagle- and MORE- needs to be re-enacted, so the assets of the vast majority of hardworking middle class folks[home-ownership / 401K's] can be protected from those who crashed the economy and reduced that figure to $10K

    August 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  86. New Gawker

    What's the point of dying with assets?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  87. peterpan

    Here's my question to you: What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets? Perhaps capitalism is the biggest sham we've bought into? People spend the better part of their life trying to get it only to spend and end up dieing but cant take it.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  88. taxedmore

    Is there any financial planning being taught in high school yet? Sounds like there should be.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  89. Paul Kennedy

    It means that in the near future, 90% of all Americans will die in poverty with only the top 1 to 10% being able to afford a funeral with a head stone. Everyone else will be buried as a pauper in a pauper's grave or be cremated by a county corner.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  90. Working in NM

    You can't take it with you when you go, so why worry how much $ you leave behind. If the govt intends to lower SS payments or make folks wait/work longer for SS benefits, they had better be damned sure they strongly encourage industry to keep/hire older workers. Also, time to get national, single payer, health insurance for every one in this country. If you make it to your golden years with the same spouse you might be better off financially; however, most of US are on our 2nd/3rd marriages and have already had our assests cut in at least half. The family dynamics in this country will change too. Time to get back to multi-generational households. The American Dream of the last 150 years is over. There is no more West to move to, can't outrun your history anymore, and home ownership has outraced the average American income. As I am approaching 50 and the only wage earner in my household, I expect to hold on to enough money to take a final Great Alaskan Adventure once I find myself terminally unnecessary and a burden to my family. The premise of that movie Logan's Run, where they dispose of humans older than a certain age, is looking more humane than starving and neglecting the elderly.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  91. Robert W. North Carolina

    Could mean they gave it all to the kids before the end came. Who needs money after death anyway?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  92. Michael

    Mu father lives in an assisted living facility, it costs him $4,700.00 dollars each month. He takes in $2,200.00 each month, which means that the remainder comes from his savings and my pocket. Social security should not have to pay 100%, but the assisted living facility should not charge so much either. The workers there earn slightly over minimum wage, the owners of the facility pocket a huge profit. I live I Northern MN.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  93. Saboth

    "What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?" That means our government is in bed with corporate interests. Long gone are pensions, fair pay, benefits. Our top jobs are outsourced more often. People actually make less now than they did 10 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Healthcare costs are quickly rising beyond the means of affordability for many people. Many years ago, our Congress and President made developing a strong middle class their number one priority. Back then, a CEO made 13X what his employees made. Now they make over 300X more for the same work. The wealthiest Americans' wealth has grown at a staggering pace, while everyone else' has fallen. It's obvious they are hoarding the wealth instead of producing jobs and paying well and providing benefits for the people that make them their money. Unions are being broken up for corporate and government interests. The people have no representation in government anymore. That's what that means.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  94. stevenbeto

    Advertisers spend millions to get Americans to buy more than they can afford and indebtedness became the new mantra for keeping up with the Jones'. Americans are indoctrinated into an economic system that encourages spending everything they have and then damns them for having the nerve to die with less than 10K in assets. Thinking badly of the poor may provide the rich with psychological justification for acting against them, but everyone has a hand in this.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  95. Tom

    It means that they spent all of their assets on medical care which is not surprising since Medicare does not cover long term nursing home care.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  96. Bogut

    Great article. I have a few additional points:
    1. Older people with more money tend to buy more things
    2. Older people with more money tend to have more fun
    3. Older people with more money tend to have more money
    4. Older people with more money tend to spend more money on younger women coming over to their condos for "services"
    5. Older people are older than those who are younger than them, regardless of their wealth.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  97. Robert Speigner (Pittsburgh)

    It means that the policies Republicans have been pushing since Reagan have been concentrating wealth as planned. They've pushed trade policies that pressured other countries to allow investment dollars to flow there from American; creating jobs overseas and slowing economic and wage growth at home. They've continuously pushed tax plans that tax foreign earnings at a lower rate than wages. They've pushed deregulation schemes and de-funded regulatory agencies; making it easier for financial institutions to ripoff hardworking Americans and making it harder for regulators to catch, stop or punish them. They've pushed 'tort reform' that make it harder for people to be compensated for what they loss or been cheated out of. They've opposed investments in education and infrastructure that would create higher paying jobs. They're creating a system where there is a wealthy few and everybody else is paid and treated like the help. Romney's the posterboy for that. This is no accident.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  98. Alex

    Simple -fix as citizens of US we all have to agree (1) Everybody lives by themselves – no govt support? or (2) Govt based support ?- Either of it good but in-between is not good. Also we have to live within our means – What mean?

    (a) If we are going for Everybody lives by themselves – no govt support? Then it should be really open market.
    – Hospitals should not be forced to treat critical ill patients if they don't have money. Tax-payers don't have to pay for their treatment
    – Persons without insurance should be able to get treatment at the same cost or lower than the rates got by the large insurance companies
    – No requirement for the insurance company to accept patients with preexisting conditions – Actually the it should have different insurance policies for the patients with per-existing conditions – Why should a perfectly well person pay for by-pass surgery of a patient who has heart problem already diagonized number of years ago.
    – No Tax credits for people giving charity to hospitals who treat poor patients as it reduces Taxes for the country.

    In short we should let people die in-case they have no money to pay for their cure. I know it is harsh and cruel but this is happening in number of poor African countries where people don't have money to pay for curable diseases.

    (b) If it is govt pays for the treatment then we need to agree that we cannot afford all the costly treatments. Based on the govt budget and allocation and the advantage of the treatments and health of the patient some treatments should not be covered. We are expecting all the latest and greatest and most costliest treatments to be available then option 1 is better.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  99. Mark from New Jersey

    It reminds me of the bumper sticker that says, "I'm spending my children's inheritance." Seriously, with the banks continuing to rob the country blind, with the strain of a military bigger than the next 25 countries, an energy industry that controls all of the Republican and many of the Democratic politicians, I guess it means there's not much to "trickle down" to the middle class, never mind anything to leave to the next generation, and that includes clean air and water, not to mention a democracy to be proud of.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  100. Mary, Chicago

    In order to qualify for Medicare sponsored senior living, you can't hold onto your assets. Many people sign over their houses & assets to their children, who then set up a trust for their parents to live off of.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  101. Tom

    I do not believe the government should take care of us, other than health care. The costs are so high that only the rich could afford to be uninsured. I do support a single payer provider. What I understand is that it is health costs that erode any finanical means elderly have. We need to set up a private investment program with many options to fit different individuals, but tightly regulated so financial managers don't end up gambling with my savings in hedge funds or other high risk investment schemes. It should also be mandated to prevent hangers-on from bleeding the system.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  102. Susan from Ca

    cmon Jack your last check should be to the undertaker and it should bounce.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  103. Phil

    It means that only having $10 K when you die makes you better off than 99% of the people in the world. As my late father used to say; "stop crying with a loaf of bread under your arm"

    August 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  104. MD

    Americans always like to blame someone else for their woes, and in this case financial. How many of this 46% continuously gave many to their children, who had to have the latest and greates gadgets, had credit card debt, etc....There are too many other factors that could come in to play. We Americans think we are entitled and are always wanting a hand out. Time to buck up and pay the piper!!!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  105. nostrildamus

    There's a whole lot of warnings about "correlation does not equal causation" that needs to happen here.

    Are they poor because of bad health or do they have bad health because they are poor? Or are the poor and in bad health because their kids stole all their money and the stress is literally killing them?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  106. Mike

    It means most Americans have no idea how to properly save and prepare for retirement. That isn't the government's fault, that isn't the economy's fault, and it isn't other generations' fault. It's each individual's fault for being too lazy to get onto a computer, go to a search engine, and type in "retirement planning". I've been completely on my own since I was 17yrs old, not a dime of financial support from anybody but myself. I'm now 28, make 86k/yr as a network engineer, and save 28% of my salary in tax deferred investments (Roth IRA/401k). I have a net worth of 200k already and have absolutely no fears about retirement. How did I perform this miracle??? I've stayed employed in high demand fields while always updating my skills, spent less than I make, and save as much as I can while still having a reasonable standard of living. Unless you are severely handicapped/mentally disabled, it is nobody's fault but your own that you are a worthless drag on the economy and the rest of us that are responsible people.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  107. Sandstone

    "The cost of funerals have gone up???"

    August 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  108. Ed J

    "Marriage might help you out in old age. According to the report, single seniors had a significantly lower median wealth than continuously married senior citizens. For some of us, that would seem to be counter intuitive."

    Why is that, Jack? Isn't it obvious that if a couple is living off both SS incomes and one dies, the loss of SS income will most times mean the surviving spouse will barely make it. Usually the spouse with the larger SS benefits is the first to die, and that is usually the husband. Unless the house is paid off, the mortgage payment will be impossible to meet. Most of these people do not have Life insurance because they could not afford the premiums, Health insurance being hard enough to afford as it was when they were under 65. Now that they are on Medicare, Life premiums are too high. If they did not work for a big company, doubtful they would have a pension or annuity.

    I could take another couple of pages to illustrate more, but most people reading this don't care because if they are reading this, they are more than likely not in this situation. The truly indigent do not have access to the net for the most part. Besides, one cannot roll back the calendar. There is no do-over.

    The only solution for future generations is to have more money put away in retirement funding. That requires having a job first of all.

    Overland Park, Kansas

    August 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  109. J W Atlanta

    It means the same thing when at the end of a Monopoly game one guy owns all the property and all the other players owe all the debt. It's the reality of a rigged game.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  110. Poor Planning

    It means they made bad decisions, didn't plan for retirement, weren't part of a decent union, weren't well educated, AND then, it means they live in a country that may not care enough about it's elderly. It's government assistance, Jack, not government baby-sitting. Where are the families of these people?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  111. Robert Harvey-Kinsey

    You know there are two ways to look at this information. One the seniors were unable to build savings or two they engaged in planed divestment. I would like to know how they arrived at only $10,000 in assets. For example, I have an aunt who at this point has less than this because she distributed her assets to her family who loves and takes care of her. I know others who saw the world and had a decades of fun and then died with little left. We need to know how many fit in this category to better handle those that fit in the other.

    I, for one, would like to die without a penny to my name with my family around me, the charities I care about well allotted, all my children graduated college and trust for their children, and in my home now owned by a person who I love and trust. I know a will might do much of this, but I have little trust of the government and those that crawl out of the ooze when a well off person passes.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  112. Jesus Christ Superstar

    It means that the top 1% should pay more in taxes because this is CLEARLY all their fault for hogging all the wealth

    August 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  113. Tony

    Isn't that the goal – to die with no money in your estate so that doctors, hospitals, the tax man and the government don't get it. I think the more relevant topic is what is the average income or nest egg of a retiree or how much do they spend in a given year.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  114. steve f

    It means that we don't care for the poor, old, and needy, we just bitch about people on medicare, medicaid, and welfare who we think are getting something for nothing, until we find ourselves in their place. Yet there is always more for the job creators.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  115. JP Davies

    It clearly shows that trickle down economics haven't worked and won't work. Thank goodness there is a safety net as the morbidly rich get richer and the middle class disappear.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  116. joeymom

    It means the "me me me" generations of this country have sucked their parents dry. Now, let's see if they care.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  117. Dawn

    It means the US economy depends on consumer spending, and pundits deplore any economic slowdowns which means that consumers aren't SPENDING. Yet the costs of NECESSITIES such as college education and healthcare have at least TRIPLED... so consumers are expected to spend, yet cannot afford the basics, even unto death. It's shameful to see this in the US.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  118. MarkB

    The question you asked is not the issue you discussed. I think you meant to ask "What happens when half of Amercians RETIRE with less than $10K". If I retire with $1M and ultimately die with $10K, what's the problem?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  119. Mr. D

    We came into this world without a diaper, maybe we can at least go out with one. Ten grand dosen't buy much these days.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  120. Mark in Houston

    Jack, it means a lot of us "out there" have done the very best we could despite what the policies of the Republican party have left us to work with.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  121. OCCUPY WALLSTREET FOR CONGRESS

    Even sadder is the genrations after the baby boomers.

    You know, the ones with tons of college debt on top of all the other debts such as a mortgage, car loan, and healthcare expenses.

    That generation will be in debt until the day they day.

    It will make 10k look like a fortune.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  122. Gary

    John Lennon had it about right: "Poor boy, when you're dead, you won't take nothin' with you but your soul."

    August 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  123. Martha Brooks

    It means that most people require, and have for years required, all their resources just to survive on a day-to-day basis and have little left for savings. We ain't the Romneys...

    August 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  124. SL in Kansas City

    My mother recently passed away with $40 in her checking account, and a huge amount of medical debt because she didn't have health insurance and didn't qualify for Medicare at the time of her accident. She made only $600 in Social Security to pay her utility bills, medical bills and feed herself. She couldn't afford to file bankruptcy before she died, as any lawyer she contacted wanted over $1,000 to help her file. There was no will because she couldn't afford to have one made. This left the family with $4000 in funeral costs (we did the cheapest funeral we could), lawyers fees for filing probate against the house, and paying for the utilities on the house until we could put it on the market after the probate was finished. Due to the number of medical bills that will be filed, we will not be able to cover our personal monetary costs when we actually get the house sold. Not only do we have the stress of mourning her death, but also have ended up with a lot of stress to get everything paid for. Cutting older Americans' Social Security not only affects the elderly, but also their families in the event of their death.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  125. Mike, Cleveland OH

    What's the point in dying with money? .. it's not like you can take it with you.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  126. Yves, Potomac, MD

    None of them expected 0% interest rates. With interest rates at 0%, it's hard to live off of the interest. With 10% interest, $100k gives you $10k/yr, which can be enough to live off of. With 0% interest, $100k is gone in 10 years or less. And we are now a few years into 0% interest with no change in sight.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  127. Adam

    I'm going to die with less than $10,000 too, because whatever I have left I'm going to blow on drugs and hookers before I base jump off the roof of a skyscraper with no parachute. Who wants to get old?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  128. ibgubu

    Jack, it means that if you are not born with a silver spoon in your mouth that you will probably spend your entire life living from paycheck to paycheck and die before your time due to the stress of always wondering how you are going to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head and your families.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  129. Gerald in Tampa

    Jack under this administration, the middle class has seen a diminishine effect on their annual income. Most Americans will die with less than 5 G's if we keep electing this type of "super-hero".

    August 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  130. Elizabeth in Grass Valley, CA

    I see this as two separate issues. First, our economy is built on spending, not saving. With the decline of the middle class and more people slipping into poverty, saving is less and less possible. Second, until we control the single largest threat to personal wealth (medical expenses), don't expect people to die with anything left in their pockets.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  131. Len in South Carolina

    It means we should be ashamed of ourselves as a country, there is no good spin to put on this.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  132. ralph S

    It means that the banks, credit card companies and the rest of the financial industry has taken away all of the future wealth of the middle class. They now own all of the equity that many homeowners counted on for their future survival. And for those of you who blame peoples predicament on over borrowing, let's not forget the banks were willing to give all of those loans out but not willing to share any losses. The bankruptcy laws passed in 2006 have made it a guarantee to the financial industry that they will never be the loser in any of this. Some homeowners that borrowed against their equity did so to keep up with their debts because of job losses or health care costs so everyone that borrowed was not a deadbeat. What ever happened to the middle class and the golden years we worked so hard for.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  133. George from Raleigh, North Carolina

    The goal should be to leave this world like we came into it. Naked and broke.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  134. Pink Elephant in San Diego

    It means the system will collect nothing for the death tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, etc. After all, we do need to anty up one last time, right? People who die with little assets are smart. They owe no one, they have nothing to fight over, so let the government fight over who probates the estate – finally we will have gotten something out of the worthless government. It's sad that our country has come to this and that our elders are suffering the way some of them do.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  135. Bob

    Oh these comments on here are great!! I see every democrat pointing fingers at everything except for themselves. When you have food in your fridge and you decide to go out for a $100 dinner instead, well that was $100 you could have put in savings for the future. The only person who really controls what you put and don't put into your own savings is yourself. You can't live your life expecting a handout from everyone who has more money than you.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  136. Sally on Cape Cod

    It means that our government has allowed big banks to offer no incentive to save. The federal reserve has lowered interest rates to an appalling low and every bank has followed suit, getting fatter and fatter while the average American suffers. Whatever happened to "work hard and save your money for the future?" With no place to save money safely with decent interest rates, this is why people have less than $10K at the end of their lives.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  137. Tony Baker - Petersburg, VA

    It means an unqualified success – to the best of my knowledge we are all borned with no assets; so to die with some is gain in my book. Good for those individuals: they had some to spare. I wonder what it mean to never gain or earn over $10,000.00 in assets over a lifetime.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  138. Michael - Los Angeles, CA

    It means our seniors aren't being taken care of anymore, their pensions raided by robber barons, and their medical costs skyrocketing – the government supposedly of the people not willing to stand by their promise to take care of those who simply don't want to be worked to death like a farmhand's old mule. Worst of all is watching their souls get crushed as they burn through their retirement funds and realize they won't be able to leave something to their families – something so dearly important to many of them, and that hope, that ultimate realization of the American dream, is now being stripped away.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  139. Rick

    Id say Americans are in Trouble. If they cut My SS im in real trouble. Im slowly going broke because I make nothing on the money I saved because the Feds keep the Intrest rates at 0 percent. Raising the intrest rates would help allot.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  140. Dave Brucher

    Yet another example of the entitlement mentality. Many seniors are encouraged by family, lawyers and advisors, to spend down their assets so they will qualify for welfare benefits to stay in a nursing home at government expense.
    Why do not the American public understand that we all pay for this. Hiding one's assets from the government in order to qualify for welfare/entitlements is theft and fraud. Still, it is encouraged and enabled by others.
    The entitlement mentality will be a huge drain on our economy and add to the already burgeoning national debt.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  141. open400

    Despite statistics like this, Paul Ryan still wants to cut into Social Security and Medicare to make the lives of senior citizens even more miserable to justify his tax cuts for the top 1% – the so-called job creators. Bismark's Germany had social security and national health insurnace – last I remember, Bismark was not a socialist.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  142. Reggie from Largo, Maryland

    Well, that would mean an even smaller pct. of people will be wealthy and well off while many more of a huge chunk of the population will be brought down to the poverty level or below.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  143. Kim in GA

    Unfortunately this sounds like how most of the "third word" leaves things. Sad.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  144. Duane Allen Omaha, NE

    What it means is the divide between the classes is much larger than is discussed, that tax breaks for the wealthy should be repositioned to the rates they were when Eisenhower was President, and that any discussion of an elimination of inheritance tax is sophistry when 50% of the population have less that $10K Net Worth and death. Further, one would have to assume that at least 75% will have less than $100K at death... sad commentary on dispersion of wealth in the USA. Any discussion proposing inheritance tax changes should be predicated on an exemption for threshold amount that would protect a majority of Americans from any inheritance tax at all and be based on the "ability to pay" rather than the ability to dodge. The middle Class is all that "really" matters in this consideration because they are unfairly burdened with the weight of the entire economic and financial burden of the country while the rich skate and the poor scrimp.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  145. TomNPitt

    It means most people are just barely making it; and the rich have found a way to move all their assets to offshore banks or Blind Trusts so their families get the money and not the Government in inheritance taxes. When did Americans grow to hate their governmen tso much, that they'll do everything they can to prevent it from getting the money they can't take with them.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  146. Chad

    It means the other half died with more than 10,000 dollars in assets

    August 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  147. Andrew

    Oh Jack I've been saying this for years... "If you die with anything in your pocket then the government hasn't done their job." I think it's abysmal that the vast majority of a person's wealth is spent in the last year of their life – meaning their healthcare sucks them dry and then the rest of the bills are covered by us anyway. I think assisted suicide for the mortally ill should be available and free upon demand. What's the quality of life filled with doctors and medicine and bills anyway?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  148. Thisiswhoiam

    The Baby Boomers should be ashamed. Reading this article I feel that my generation is doomed for failure. How could you all let this happen on your watch? Let alone to yourselves. The example of running the greatest country in the world into the the ground did show us what not to do. Now, please step aside and let the new generation fix what you all refuse to adapt too. Times change and so does the world. Grow up and stop clinging to your old beliefs. At least two generations are totally screwed because of the old money hungry croons that refuse to change. Tallahassee, FL.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  149. zafrogzen

    What's remarkable is that many of those folks are still voting republican until the bitter end.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  150. DaleW in MA

    It means that corporate and wall street greed is very efficient in separating 99% of the people from their money. Not everyone can be a corporate executive or hold federal political office and get multi million dollar bonus' and vote themselves pay raises.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  151. Bill

    What is the big deal if you are dead. There is nothing to worry about. You will either be buried or cremated by your family or the state. Who ever buries you gets what is left. How many people have life insurance that covers their buriel or was buriel prepaid. My mother paid for her own funeral expenses, left her home to my unmarried sister, who is still not married, and no cash to go with it. I was one of her ten children and we grew up from poor to just making it. So what is the big deal. Make sure you have enough to support yourself while you are alive and fight to keep the social security and medicare that we all paid into from the day we started working. Save what you can and live a normal life, no need for all the frills anyway.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  152. b0bc4t

    The health care industry makes sure we are one major health issue away from debtor's prison and a pauper's grave. Even the most wealthy people cannot do much against a million dollar end of life medical bill where extraordinary measures are required to maintain the people beyond quality of life, not beyond billable procedures and patient portion.
    People are eating into their savings, which were meant for "golden years", but which are the only thing keeping them out of the elements against rent, food and ever rising costs of living. People have to work until they drop, or if they have the unfortunate situation (ever more prevalent these days) of being undereducated, or overqualified and downsized from their lifetime employment, then they must take entry level jobs to supplement the social programs, overburdened by the ranks of underemployed. Everyone has to place their bets on the stock market to keep pace with inflation, only to have stock traders develop worthless instruments to separate us from our savings and fleece the market with commissions, win or lose .... they win WE LOSE!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  153. Michael

    IIt means that most older Americans live in poverty, and possible didn't properly plan for retirement. What else?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  154. Lagos

    Social security has been broken and ignored for far too long for there to be any somewhat painless fixes. The only fix I can think of that doesn't involve completely screwing SOMEONE would be for everyone born after a certain date... Say, 2015, to not have any social security benefits deducted, or provided to them when they retire. The government eats the cost of cutting these people off, which will be tremendous. It'd suck for everyone, it'd drag the economy deeper down, but we simply can't sustain down the path we're heading and we can take a lot of pain now, or a lot more later.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  155. Justin

    Robert Wagner sold them all reverse mortgages....

    August 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  156. Phyllis G Williams

    What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?

    It means Americans need a better understanding of how to distribute wealth.
    If you have several holes and you keep filling some till they overflow, the neglected ones
    will naturally be empty.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  157. Tom in Desoto, TX

    The Republican plan of the rich having everything in on track.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  158. Cris

    I'm hoping when I die I will have spent every last penney.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  159. Sue IL

    It may mean nothing! You do not know how people have spent their money, e.g., transferring assets to their children, or spending every penny as soon as they got it. I don't know how you could put together a formula to compare people to each other since everyone is unique and handles their finances in a unique manner also. I've known low income people who saved liked crazy and high income folks who spent like crazy! Obviously this article was written to provoke jealousy!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  160. John

    It is just more evidence that the GOP is winning the Class warfare. In the last 20 years, the disposable income for the middle class has constantly decreased. This includes households having to go from 1 wage earner to 2 wage earners just to survive. During the same period the net worth of the upper 1% has increased dramatically.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  161. Dana in NV

    "healthier seniors are likely to have more assets than those who aren't as healthy" – this is because of ballooning health care prices. Why does an ankle X-ray cost $300? X-ray machines have been around for a century. That's not right at all.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  162. Mark C. Williams

    What does it mean? It means they did a great job spending everything up to their deaths. You can't take anything with you, might as well make sure it's used up.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  163. Tim

    I would think that spending and donating all of your money prior to death, with a small $10,000 cushion, wouldn't be a bad way to go...you can't take it with you.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  164. voice

    That Americans are poor and something needs to be done so that people can work and obtain more assets people are just getting by.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  165. NeoGraphix

    This is not a surprise. Lets get new people in Congress to actually work and solve the problem.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  166. Daniel

    It means that their children will inherit little. What was once a way to move ahead, is gone.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  167. DavidW0909

    In most countries children care for their parents when they get old. Here, in not all cases, but much of the time the children would never do that. Some dufus said that people in poor countries save their money, I almost fell out of my chair, they don't save money because they don't have any to begin with. What it means is that children need to care for their parents. I did and my mother died poor in assets but rich in love.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  168. carey from Texas

    That is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Wealth disparity in our country is so much worse than income disparity. A federal reserve study in 1983 suggested that the bottom 40% of our nation's population owned 0.2% (that's two tenths of one percent) of its wealth. The top 10% of the population owned over 70%. Wealth is the fundamental measure of households to consume, not income. By arguing incessantly about the 1 percenters and their incomes, our eye is taken off the ball so that the true measure of econcomic equality is ignored. I'm afraid that if we don't do something as a society to bring balance to it, the laws of economics will do it for us. And it won't be pretty.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  169. Denis , North Carolina

    Poor Americans are more solvent than the government!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  170. Daniel M, Dallas, TX

    Sounds like some people never planned for that rainy day. Its a shame to simply see so many people waste their youth on things like New TVs, Designer Bags, Nice Cars, Homes that are way larger than the average home world wide (gotta have your GIANT lawn!) etc. I have pitty on them but if I were to die today, at 27, I'd die with well over $50,000 in net worth.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  171. Stephen Guptill

    lololol
    I live on less then that... Dying on that much would be a breeze!

    Also; of course healthier seniors have more money! They don't have to spend it on health problems!

    This is an excellent argument against growing old.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  172. Bill in VA

    What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets? A lot of people are effectively managing their resources.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  173. Olaf Big

    You don't want to get involved in admittedly complex discussions of how we are taxed and how the taxes are spent. You just keep nagging for still lower taxes. You are opposed to universal healthcare, at least you don't want to pay for it while you can. You keep putting downward pressure on wages, because you think that the most important thing about economy is job numbers, even if the jobs are flipping burgers at McDonalds. You don't want the government to invest in education and research, because even though this will create lots of high paying jobs, this will happen in ten years and not tomorrow. So, when you are old, cannot flip burgers anymore, get sick often and require lots of expensive care, why are you surprised that you are broke?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  174. Jay, Ashtabula, Ohio

    It means I'm going to have a lot of company when I get too old to work. The AARP is going to have to come up with a new name for itself because ten grand isn't enough to fund a "retirement." It might be enough to cover a funeral. Maybe they'll call it "The American Association of Old Unemployed Poor People."

    August 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  175. Marlene Crumley

    Dying with less than $10,000 in assets means the freeloading kids will have less to fight over after you're gone. Best to spend it all while you're alive and die with nothing.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  176. rybl101

    Many people, without larger estates, move 100% of their assets to their family before they pass so their family doesn’t pay the “death tax” on whatever they do have.

    Then the family members can “gift” up to $10,000 per person annually back to the individual - tax free - if need be.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  177. John from Santa Maria, CA

    Jack,
    I dont see that as a problem. When I die, I want to die owing alot of people alot of money. That way there will be real tears at my funeral. (That is a quote, but I dont remember who wrote it)

    August 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  178. MC in TX

    That shouldn't surprise anyone. It shows that our heavily consumption-oriented culture has an ugly downside. It should make us think hard about whether robber-baron capitalism (what conservatives have been advocating) is the best thing for our country.

    One thing that is missing from our social security formula is an incentive for savings. Ideally if the formula for calculating benefits payed more for people who retire with a high ratio of assets to income then Americans would be encouraged to save more. It would be like a bonus for saving. Unfortunately such a thing would politically painful to pass so it is unlikely to ever happen.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  179. Gary

    It partly means that most people lived for the present and did not plan forthe future. Savings is a forgot pratice. Hoping the government is going to save you is a BAD idea.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  180. Roger

    When you look at todays senior, born around 1940, and look at all the chances they had over the years to get rich it is sad they didn't. Those were some of America's best years! We are borrowing right now to support their social security payments and it is hard to cut back on someone so needy. For our nations health we need to grandfather older people on the old system and start allowing younger people to add to a US treasury bill type investments with their social security to help build wealth.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  181. voice

    that would be seamus,because he would sure leave the poor out in the cold.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  182. nokoolaidforme

    Of course they have nothing left they spent it all in a subsistence life. Rolling up profits to large landowners or corporations which for the most part are controlled by the rich. But soon they will realize that they are not just taking the milk but eating the cow and soon the milk will be gone too. Face the elementary economic fact that the economy is just like an ecosystem in nature. Once those higher on the food chain eat too much the entire system goes down.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  183. David

    We are a nation who overspends–personally as well as corporately-and we wonder why there isn't anything left later. IN 20 years, I have carried no debt but a home mortgage and, with a middle income job have found it possible to enjoy a great life, family vacations, gifts to charity, savings to retirment and am paying cash to put my son through college at the present time. Of course, had I put all my vacations on a credit card and bought my son a new car instead of asking him to put some skin the game, I would be sitting in my retirement with less than $10,000 in assets. All about priorities.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  184. jim

    I'm gong to be in the same boat and I don't spend wasteful. I have a truck from 2002 and a small old house built in the 50's. I've been working since I was 15 and I'm now 42. Anytime I get money saved, something breaks or I have to pay midical bills. It just the way it is.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  185. Michael

    It means they're welfare kings and queens and should get off the government teat? Stop stealing from hardworking Americans...lazy bums. Right? Did I get the talking point right?

    I find it hilarious that many of these social security and medicare dependent people will be the same ones voting for Romney in November and for that if he wins I hope he's ruthless in slashing those programs into oblivion.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  186. CommonSense

    Well clearly we have to find dying people and throw money at them; there's nothing like dying in a swimming pool of cold hard cash

    August 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  187. jim

    My grandma says that if she was a little younger, she would kick Bernanke square in the nuts for what he's done to her CD rates. At her age, she's told not to gamble in the fraud markets. Yet if she doesn't, she's earning leass than the inflation rate on her savings, all so that banksters stay afloat. Grandma says the dry Purina doesn't go down as well as the Purina in cans, but, she does have shiny hair!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  188. Joel

    Since there is no context, it means nothing. Compared to what? Some had truly unfortunate lives while others actually spent their lives and money without regard for their own future. I look around at the people that have to have this vacation, or that car, or live in that big house without thinking for a moment how much they should be investing in their future lives. I have sacrificed a lot in my life to ensure that I have a nest-egg later. It burns me up to see others living as though they had money to burn. Perhaps they do (Uncle Sammy will bail them out). Assistance should be given to those that are truly unfortunate, not those that are foolish.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  189. Irish Seanachie from Maine

    Jack, let us focus on the living and how they are to survive on less than $10,000 a year?

    August 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  190. Maybe

    I see lots of families transfer assets from older members so the older folks can qualify for government subsidies... And if they end up in a nursing home, they don't get sucked dry.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  191. Jim in VA

    I'm just amazed at how many people blame others ( banks, Wall St, the government) for their own lack of responsibility.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  192. Mary

    It means I won't die alone.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  193. thom richer

    I believe it means and offers indisputable proof that half or more than half of Americans work for barely a livable wage and live from month to month and year to year struggling to maintain. For those who insist on comparing us to other countries, it is not a realistic or valid comparison. We are, supposedly, the greatest and wealthiest country in the world, yet we cannot or refuse to take care of our own. We are now controlled by a handful of politicians and corporations that use the working class to achieve record profits with no concern for workers welfare. Yes, we are a great country. Yes, we are a free country. However, our greatness and freedoms are waning because of ever greater greed and less and less humanity. We may be a great country but I wonder if we are still a great people.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    August 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  194. Peter, Tarrytown, N.Y

    I guess it means we need to up the amount of welfare so the 3rd that recieve it can save for their old age.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  195. Roland (St George, UT)

    It means there are no guarantees in life.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  196. Deborah in Kansas City

    It means more Americans are poor than Washington would like to admit. Outside candidate speeches, one cannot ignore the fact that the land of opportunity is more like the land of paupers. The rich own the microphones, so they are the only voices heard.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  197. Renee, Illinois

    I've lived just under the poverty level my entire adult life. $10,000 in assets would seem like a small fortune to me. Ironically, this means I've probably handled the recent economic collapse better than most. I didn't lose anything. But when I die I plan to go with a clean slate, a clean conscience, and a clean soul. Not many, if any, on Wall St. can make that claim. Perhaps if we all concentrated a little more on 'doing unto others. . . ' instead of the 'dog-eat-dog' mentality that's taken over this country, this wouldn't be happening.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  198. Nyanada

    Just enough money to cover your funeral costs.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  199. That Guy

    It means that they are doing substantially better than the under 30 college grads who have an average student loan debt of around $20,000 and meek prospects for employment.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  200. Tom from GA

    Jack, it means most people neet to plan ahead and engage in a diverse systematic savings and investment plan. I'm 39 and have been doing just that for the last 15 years. I'll be ready. In fact, I'll be so ready the government will probably want to redistribute my efforts to those folks subject in your article.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  201. LynnInWisconsin

    Divorce is so prevalent. Divorce KILLS ASSETS!! That's why married seniors are so much better off.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  202. Taxed To Death

    It means we have been taxed to death!!! For the vast majority of us, all we do is work, work, work .. to pay taxes, taxes, taxes. IT TRULY IS A TRAVISTY! I am proud to be an American but to see our great country go from being known as "The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave" to Turbo Taxed Tundra is disgraceful! Unfortunately, it seems like Washington doesn't care – thus, they ALL need to be kicked out!!!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  203. pdidiness

    what does it mean mr caffery? it means you can't take it with you. you're welcome.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  204. Rus in St. Paul

    I am not sure what it means, I just know it's hard to believe and sad. I'm only 34, never made over $40k a year, and I'm already way over 3x that average, and I haven't even been trying in all honesty, so it's not particularly difficult of a feat to achieve.. Sadly though, we live in a society that prioritizes spending and immediate gratification instead of saving.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  205. Valerie in Raleigh

    It means many lost a sizable portion of their IRA's when the economy took a nose dive. It means the jobs that once provided a reasonable middle-class income were sent abroad. It means when the value of our homes went down and down, we had to borrow against what we had left to pay our bills or assist our parents or children. It means the bail-outs that were necessary to keep the country from going over the cliff benefited the 1% at the cost to the rest of us. All this, the result of eight years of Bush and the last three years of the party of "no" saying no to everything the President tried to do to help the economy. Sadly, the Republicans have been very successful.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  206. tmike1

    Those of us with aging parents, or as in my case, with an aging sibling, will be required to step up and meet the gap. For seniors with no family safety net, it seems to be fine with the Republicans that we continue to shave off benefits to the elderly to fund tax cuts for the "job creators." If we buy this and elect Romney we can watch our seniors starve to death.... or choose between blood pressure medication and groceries.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  207. Paul

    All posters seem to want to blame the government, banks, and everything wlse other than the true answer.
    People in this country suck at making GOOD financial decisions.
    Save, save, save instead of spend, spend, spend should be the norm.
    No ones fault but the individual.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  208. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    That the other half are dying with too much money. The best way to die is broke with a smile on your face. More seriously, it means that no one is regulating the cottage industry in swindling money out of older home owners through predatory lending schemes.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  209. Lisa in Montana

    Of course the other thing that's going on is older people transferring their house to their kids or selling it to pay for the nursing home and then having the audacity to live for more than 5 years in a nursing home which burns through 6x the money many of them earned during their lifetimes.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  210. R0

    It means that one more month in a nursing home would have wiped them out entirely.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  211. Chuck Barker

    It means the system worked to perfection......too much easy credit.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  212. Larry in Houston

    What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?

    Answer : It means that Romney Isn't going to Withdraw all of HIS Assets from All of those Tax Shelters to help anybody but his own family. The majority of that money he's got in the Caymans & everywhere else, came from Shutting down Companies and Corporations that were Not doing well. So, it begs the question : If he's saying and touting how many JOBS he's going to "Create" – why didn't he "create" some jobs with the money that he received when he sold & shut them down ?

    Yeah right, Romney's going to "fix things" – - LOL – we'll see when November 6th comes around. Trouble is : Goverment does Not Create Jobs, when they do, it becomes BIgger, not Smaller Government. (Plain & Simple)

    How about all the manufacturing & factory Jobs that were lost across the rust belt, in the last 35 years ?? Think about it, every piece of cloth, or clothing, plastic / glass / ceramic / rubber / metal of any kind / that you "touch" everyday isn't made here anymore.

    Hate to be a bearer of bad tidings Mr. Cafferty, but until some of those huge factories that made "stuff" comes back to the U.S. – we're Sunk. The Government could not possibly create THAT many Jobs that were lost in a 35 year timeframe.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  213. Klancy Schmertz

    I am reminded of the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper.
    Nevertheless, many of the 'ants' who did try to save for the future saw their efforts wiped out by the uncontrolled excess of the banking and investment industry and the uncontrolled and poorly managed health care and insurance industry. We don't need more laws and regulations as much as we need the Executive branches to be empowered to (funded by Congress and legislatures) and then 'mind the store', controlling costs at the grass roots or 'in the trenches' level, where $1 spent on enforcement should result in $10 to $100 in cost savings, allowing the work of those who did prepare to be fruitful.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  214. lynnej in nc

    Be glad. It could be worse. Besides, this is old news, Jack. That has been happening for years. Some folk I know didn't have a $1 to their name.

    But given the rising cost of food, healthcare and housing, it is wonder that anybody does.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  215. manuel in ga.

    Its easy Jack, it means that half of poor will be dead and the rich will resort to ripping each other off!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  216. orlop

    It means nothing when half of American's die today with less than $10,000. Years ago usually the oldest son got the only thing of value, the family farm but the other siblings got little to nothing. With the exception of the greatest generation, most families passed little on to heirs. Children should not expect to inherit elders assets they should earn their own way through life. If they do inherit something then they can consider themselves fortunate.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  217. Gilbert

    Hmmmmmm.... Maybe it means that the American Dream is just a Mirage!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  218. Brian Samuels (Chicago)

    I guess this is the country we have become. The rich few get richer and the rest of us get poorer. I don't see how people continue to yell out we are headed toward Greece or European Style Socialism when our society couldn't be further from it.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  219. Time Bandit

    Once your gone, who cares whether or not you have money....well except for those sponges called family. As for Boomer in Mo., I agree, you have many who live beyond their means. I know many who literally live paycheck to paycheck, they spend today and worry about the future when it comes. I, at one time, had a good paying job in DC. My sister kept trying to tell us to sell our little 1200sqft house and buy bigger, her excuse...investment! HA! Good thing we didn't listen to her poor judgement, I was laid off in 2010. The job I have now, I make 1/2 what I used to. Sure I would like a bigger house but with that comes higher property taxes, higher mortgage and more pay out for utilities...no thanks! We'll keep our little 1200sqft house, we have 7 more years to pay on it and then it's ours. After that we plan on putting more money away for our retirement, we're not spenders and rarely go on vacation.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  220. All those kittens

    Jack it means that the "Land of Milk and Honey" is a pipe dream.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  221. Montello, northeast Nevada

    Jack, my mother never worked and my father was never particularly well paid and endured some periods of unemployment. We were definitely at the bottom of the middle class. But they gave us kids a great life and made sure we got a good education. And because they were careful with their money, they enjoyed a long, comfortable retirement without having to rely on anyone else, and still left a sizable sum to charity when they died. I learned a lot from them and fully expect to do the same. So if 46% are dying with no real assets, the majority of them have spent too lavishly and/or haven't planned well and have no one to blame but themselves.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  222. Willa45

    Many Americans over 55 are being laid off before they're old enough to retire. Many of these older Americans have marketable skills but the dark truth is that age discrimination and a weak job market, renders many of them 'unemployable'. $10K in assets may seem like something, but in today's world it likely represents someone who has been downsized to living inside his car with several bagfuls of the few possessions of value he still has left. .

    August 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  223. ken, atlantic city, nj

    It means we are a people and a country headed for bankrupcy. It is over for the middle class. When welfare and food stamps run out the obama voters will finally get the message.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  224. Mike in Little RI

    If they don't have that much in assets than they probably don't have much to begin with.I hope they have life insurance because death is a pretty expensive bill without it when you have no assets.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  225. Nancy Manett

    It means many may have failed to plan vs planned to fail.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  226. Dana

    It means that Americans, in general, do not understand how to save and invest money (even a little) at an early age or think enough about their future retirement needs. They rely too much on the government

    August 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  227. Dan

    It means there are too many people on welfare. Go get a job.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  228. David from Centreville, VA

    Jack, it means that "middle class" is becoming an archaic term. I'm on my third round of extended unemployment since 2006. I've had to raid my IRA just to survive. There's almost nothing left.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  229. Sean Conway

    It means we are poor.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  230. Jim

    Jack,

    Primarily it means that our publication system has failed us. Many of these seniors are persons who never got beyond high school, if that, and have survived on low wages their entire life. They have little saved for retirement and depend on Government programs, such as Social Security to continue to survive until death sets them free. The cycle can be broken by parents and a public education system that encourage and provide a superior education. Our headlong rush into the future is accelerating and it will only get tougher for those who choose to ignore the benefits of study and good grades.

    Jim
    Reno, Nevada

    August 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  231. mk045

    It just shows that hard work no longer pays off. Work hard or not at all, and you will likely die leaving nothing behind as a legacy. The wealthy own both the corporations and the government, and the "American Dream" is dead. Most people are too blind to realize this, and people often vote against their own self interest ... as is too all clear on these message boards.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  232. alfred

    Over the years, the banks pumped in a lot of money into the market by unlimited credit. This raised the prices of the property making it less affordable for people to buy out a house in their working years. Always remember easy credit means a booming economy but only for banks, individuals are simply enslaved for more number of years.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  233. Frank Poynton from Los Angeles

    It means perhaps that the deceased with so little in financial assets are happier in their new location where nobody is allergic to ashes and dust.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  234. fryuujin

    what does it mean if 1/2 of America dies with only 10K in assets? It means the GOP is not doing it's job in getting that 10K into an off shore. You would think with reverse mortgages, nursing home fees, and other old people scams that Romenyits would have they these people's estate owning when they die.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  235. DD

    If you are a US person, less than 50 & reading this, DO NOT depend on Social Security being there!!!! PLAN NOW.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  236. Bruce Holt

    Jack there are as many reasons as there are different circumstances. In my family's case, my Dad was a police officer for 30 years and had a great retirement plan. They were OK until Dad died in 2009. Dad left Mom a $220,000 life insurance policy and a paid for home valued in 2008 at $425,000 . Today that home is valued at $195,000 and Mom's cash is down to $40,000. Why ??? The housing crisis which I blame equally on Clinton and the democrats because they believed every citizen deserved to own a home. This led to huge demand, the housing bubble, fraud and greed among realtors, mortgage brokers and bankers.
    The second part is the high cost of caring for an elderly person. If you were resposible and tried to tke care of your family you are asking to be screwed. Patients that have no money, no house etc. get the exact same care as those that had tried to do the right thing but will end up with no assets to pass along as they are penalized for being responsible.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  237. Donaldo in ATL

    What it means is that the myth perpetrated on Americans is all a lie. Social Security was sold to us as a safety net and few talked about individual responsibility. Now that we finally see things as they are, many of us BOOMERS will adjust and continue to work, be self reliant and not depend on hand outs to survive, I for one will continue to do what I enjoy doing, making hopefully a decent living, enjoying good health and not being a burden on the state. It is a sad commentary on this nation to see many able bodied and creative people falling thru the cracks, I suppose for the Grace of God go I.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  238. Teapartier Express

    This makes me very, very happy. Let's get rid of the weak. What is grandma producing! Let's take away Social Security and Medicare. Economic freedom for all!!!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  239. Pat

    It's perfectly fine if I die with only $10,000...or less for that matter. I will have lived my full life, enjoyed everything I could afford up to that time and couldn't have been happier. We ALL don't have to be able to afford worldwide travel. It's always been where some could and some couldn't.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  240. Paulene

    It means the American Dream is in fact a geriatric nightmare.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  241. dubrats/illinois

    our great grandparents before us died with even less...the ones with the most toys at the end...does'nt mean you win.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  242. Rich

    It means that if Romney and the GOP have control many more older people will live in poverty. I see my niece and nephew struggling in their 40s. I doubt they have enough money to save for the future. In 20 years that generation and those behind it will not live anywhere close to well. This also won't be good for the economy. Social Security money is spent right away on living. That money will no longer go into the economy. It makes more social and economic sense to keep Social Security solvent and healthy for seniors and for the country.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  243. I'm a Rose

    What's new? My mother died while Bush was Prez. and she had a total of $10,000.00 and an old house. Dad died before her and they had both worked. Let's not blame this stuff on President Obama, Bush owns all of the hard times people are having. It seems like a lot of your questions are slanted for the wealthy and trying to get Romney elected. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    August 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  244. AndyInAtl

    All this means, is that majority of these people had fun during their working years. You have to pay for your lifestyle at some point; some people lead frugal lives and retire in comfort, yet other people choose to buy all the stuff they want, and end up broke at retirement.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  245. Katherine Dorset

    It means the banks and robber barons have finally won. The novel experiment is over and the majority of people need to look at who is being protected by the current Con
    gress. If it's not you, then DON;'T VOTE FOR THESE PEOPLE! It's so sad when I hear poor people embracing the Republican Party. If you're not in the 1% they are not going to do anything for you except use you to further line their pockets. Get a clue people. Democrats aren't perfect, but there the best hope for the other 99%. And if you don't think it matters who is President, think again. It was Republican Presidents who appointed the current majority in the Supreme Court who hijacked the 2004 election and found for the corporations in the Citizen United cases. The Republicans are using social issues to distract voters from the real people (corporations) they represent. I'm looking at the words of the Constitution right now, it begins "WE THE PEOPLE." We need leaders who represent people, not profits. Look at the donors, if they don't look like you, don't vote for that candidate. And Democrats, please vote!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  246. Joe

    You people blaming the republicans for this might want to learn something before putting your foot in your mouth. The main reason why they have less than $10K in assets is that they don't work at all and expenses are high. A cruise cost less per day than a nursing home. See how much money you would have after not working for 365 days and being on a cruise ship. Note you would be saving money too. Anyone making it to these years don't worry about keeping assets and get reverse morgages. They give away all of their stuff before the die. If you want to reverse the trend here is how you do it. STOP GIVING AWAY FREE MONEY. I know you love it so much but if you take $50 out of every $100 I make I can't save for retirement. What you want to do now is also punish me for investing in retirement. You love giving money away and pretend it comes from 7 figure salaries but it doesn't it comes from the middle class. So thank you for expanding the lower class because you not only teach people to be poor you reward them.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  247. RickFromDetroit

    It mean that we are the wealthiest country on the planet !!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  248. Burbank

    It means that they have been taxed to death all their lives supporting others, welfare, illegal aliens, foreign aid, and so on. Now it's their turn now for others to pay taxes to support them.

    Since when did it become a crime to be middle class? We are punished for being barely sucessful by being taxed to death and forced to support the entire world with handouts, countless wars, selfish petty Congressmen that need to go out and get real jobs and the list goes on and on...

    August 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  249. Johnny Edwards

    I believe that this is a function of individuals living to the extent of their means... and what is wrong with that? Why save hundreds of thousands of dollars and not have the best of what you can afford?

    August 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  250. Pat

    Jack,

    it just means that capitalism is working the way they intend it too.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  251. AJ - Belle Plaine, MN

    My goal is to die with zero assets. If you're saving a lot as you grow older, you're not having that much fun.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  252. Rose Rowe

    It means you are lucky to have lived long enough, and earned enough to have spare change left. Do you really need money when you are dead?

    August 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  253. Dan Maddigan

    If the rich 1% think There min. wage rent-a-cop at the gate of there walled compound will protect them from the chaos they inflict on America with there Paul Ryan budge they are delusional. the Arab spring will be coming to a neighborhood near you.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  254. Felix

    Thats ok, for all is vanity so long as you lived your life well.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  255. James

    It means health care got all their money and drove them into poverty. Really, why save money just to give it to the health care industry. I intend to spend all of mine or give it to my children.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  256. Martha Campbell

    It means that government is not really concerned for the current senior population and definitely not concerned with the next generation of seniors. I'm 65 years old, have worked since I was 15 and have paid into Social Security all my life. I get $1070 per month of SS money, which I earned, but I still have to work to supplement my income and I will until I die cause I can't live on $1,000 per month. And, of course, I'm still paying into Social Security.

    Jamestown, PA

    August 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  257. Rob from Anaheim, CA

    It simply means that the majority of Americans do not save for their own retirement! They worry about the NOW, and not the FUTURE!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  258. Steve H

    it means the kids will have to find a job!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  259. Susan in Mayfield, Kentucky

    Jack – my husband and I are 62 and 69. Retired blue collar & teacher, no debt, "very comfortable" defined benefits pensions, Social Security, and a nest egg in the Stock Market (which has gained back all losses). We ate lots of hot dogs during our working years so we could have this life. Most Americans today live way beyond their means and don't think past tomorrow. People have to get used to the idea that you can not have everything you want, and must plan for the future and protect yourself. No sympathy from us to people who bought MacMansions and sports cars BEFORE having a real good retirement account set aside !

    August 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  260. Sean Broadnax

    Jack the question should be How much personal debt will they die with?

    August 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  261. ron

    Jack, what it means is, the "American Dream" really is just a dream and a 40 year old dream at that – the general society has been drubbed. We put our heads down and worked away for little or nothing and made some people wealthy along the way.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  262. Martin Wiener

    What it means is most Americans live way beyond their means, spending more than they make, and not saving for a rainy day figuring the Federal Government will always have their back. Good luck with that one. I save every extra dollar I can for retirement. take a look outside. Guess what? It's Raining!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  263. Mike DiGiuro

    If I plan my life right, it will be less than $10,000. I hope to have my kids spend my last $5,000 on my funeral. Until then I plan on living well.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  264. Dave Becker

    It means Dear Jack, that they are not in the top 3%, this a sad fact for most of the 97%, who worked hard all their lives, made their employers Billions, did the best they could, and fell on the scrap heap, once retired.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  265. Dan from Stewartstown PA

    It means that crooked politicians from both parties and the K Street gang have manipulated our tax code so tilted toward the wealthy that we are now living in a repeat of history. Think of the 1870s when Railroad, Oil and Steel barons amassed nearly all of the wealth for themselves and the "lower classes" worked until they died.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  266. Anna-May Smith

    It means they were sick and the medical bills in their final days cleaned them out. Tale a look at the probate filings by hospitals and doctors......there is a clue there! You can't save enough and the co pays can kill you!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  267. Fernando McGregor from California

    It means that "Trickle Down Economics" DOESN'T WORK !!!
    This failed principle touted by the Republicans is destroying the middle class, and keeps the rich richer and the poor poorer.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  268. Ron

    They are financial experts. If I die with $0.01 in my pocket I've worked the system just right. I want to arrive at the pearly gates with that one penny, a glass of whiskey and a chocolate bar.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  269. Working Stiff

    In practical terms, it means that, if they also don't have life insurance, they're probably leaving a large chunk (or all) of their final expenses to be paid by their next of kin, for one thing. A funeral around here will cost you, on average, about $4K, which may or may not include your burial plot or casket and certainly doesn't include a headstone.

    In big-picture terms, there are a lot of reasons why they might have less than $10K in the bank when they die. They may have struggled their whole lives to get out of poverty and just never made it. They may have lost their pensions in the past few years. They may have been slammed with unexpected medical expenses. Or they may not have saved to start with. It's far too complicated a situation to draw any one conclusion.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  270. Brandon

    Pretty simple, Jack. It means that Reaganomics did not work. It was nothing more than trickle up economics that put the working class in the poorhouse. The 1% have theirs and are now poised to flat out buy the government. So glad to see you and the rest of the crew at Fox Lite get around to what more than half of the country has known for years.
    Brandon
    Tennessee

    August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  271. Jim H

    It means that most people are completely unprepared for their retirement. This is the result of the switch to 401k accounts from the pensions people used to get. There is much sadness for seniors now.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  272. John J. Grimes Watertown, Ma.

    It appears that there are far too many people in this country who didn't do much thinking about the future. I worked two jobs a good portion of my life, tried to put some away and bought my first house when I was 30. I just can't understand how so many people can come into the United States and get the same benefits as those who worked all of their lives here. Subsidized housing, free medical and even food stamps and yet they never worked for these rewards.. This is the biggest problem and it affects all of us.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  273. us_1776

    A massive amount of peoples wealth is drained in their last 6 months of life due to ridiculous medical charges for unnecessary procedures.

    .

    August 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  274. Mark

    It means that less than 10,000 have almost half the assets.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  275. Bent Frederiksen

    It means that cost of living keeps on going up and salaries has stagnated. With a Federal minimum wages of $7.25 an hour and in the state of CA of $8.00 an hour, no one can make ends meet anymore and until our Government increase the minimum wages and stop Corporate Welfare, this will only continue to get worse.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  276. mruthenberg

    It means that the rich already have enough economic power to corner most (if not all) of the nation's wealth and no longer need the government to subsidize them with lower taxes. The disdain of the wealthy for those working for them 9and buying their goods & services) rivals France's Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake".

    August 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  277. Andy in NY

    It means we need someone who knows how to build those personal savings accounts back up and not someone whose idea of retirement means reliance on the government. Which candidate obviously knows a thing or two about building a nest egg? Hmmm...

    August 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  278. Ratfeather

    What does it mean? It means that about half the people timed things okay. There is no moral or legal obligation to leave large amounts of money unspent.

    The goal is not to outlive your assets. If you die with only a little in the bank then you are following the advice of many financial planners. You don't have to leave money behind. Give it away or spend it while you are alive. (Just make sure someone doesn't spend it for you while you are still paying your own bills.)

    August 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  279. Brian in TX

    Jack,

    The decades of Republican governance, and I use that term lightly, has created a permanent underclass. Which is what they wanted. Anyone who believes that cutting Social Security is an answer to all our woes is just plain stupid. We need to raise benefits, raise the SS cap on income, and let taxes go back to Clinton era rates.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  280. mlr

    It doesn't mean much of anything – any Social Security attorney will advise you to divest yourself of all but a miniscule amount of your assets several years before you think you will go into a home. It takes awhile, because they most you can "give away" to each child a year is $10K. Otherwise, when you try to go into a nursing home – they take all of the assets away. Additionally – since we are bringing back the estate taxes..... you need to get the assets transferred well in advance of your death as well – or your kids end up paying a ton of taxes on what they inherit... that you have already paid taxes on. The study means nothing.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  281. Julie Hare Tallahassee, FL

    It means we live longer than we plan for. My Dad retired at 62 and lived until he was 84. My Mom – at age 89 – is still receiving his military and phone company pensions 31 years later. Thank goodness she has these resources, but as long as we spend more years in retirement than in the work force, we are on a sure path to self destruction.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  282. ruthann barnes

    Great planning!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  283. Privacy Please

    It could mean any number of things from being uneducated, disability, poverty, bad luck, misfortune, bad decisions, theft, crime, inability to afford healthcare, etc. etc etc. It could also mean they lived their life fully, spent their money in this world without worrying taking it with them.

    Most of us know people who save their life away and die too young without enjoying much of it.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  284. marcus

    really? it means that things are not that bad for me as i thought. i guess now i can supersize my meals at mcdonald's and maybe upgrade my car into the 21st century. maybe i can switch parties and become a republican now that i'm rich.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  285. tct

    It means we don't have enough data, how much did they spend in their final years for pleasure or medical care and how much did they give away?

    August 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  286. Sean

    This means 1/2 of Iranians are 10 times richer than 1/2 of Americans because they die with at least $100,000 in assets.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  287. catskillquilter

    The short answer is that many less than healthy older Americans have depleted all of their savings in order to keep up with medical bills! For the first time in our history, we have a system in place that will provide health care to all of our citizens, even the impoverished. And yes, the Republicans want to take it away before it even gets started! The longer answer, it means that if Social Security is reduced or abandoned altogether, millions of older Americans will die, and they will not be pretty deaths.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  288. Maxsand

    It means that they got screwed out of $10,000. The goal is to spend the lass dollar on the lass day.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  289. mary owens

    when they put me in the grave,how am i going to spend it. I' ve lived most of my life with less than $10,000 in assets and the government still taxes me.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  290. Denise in Florida

    There is a difference between dying with only $10,000 or retiring with only $10,000. Dying with only $10,000 could mean that you had alot upon retirement and spent it after retirement to enjoy life in old age but it could also mean that you scraped by on your social security living a minimalistic lifestyle after retirement. But if you retire with only $10,000 you'd most likely be on welfare when you die, or severely restricted to a minimalistic retirement lifestyle relying on only your social security or worse, become homeless. Tough these days to just live off of only social security and retain any sort of dignity in old age. This is what is reality for a growing group of Americans.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  291. jamie farnham

    My mother has no savings and relies totally on her social security. She is always telling me, that she hopes she does not get a raise in her social security check because it rasies all her payments on rent and medical...If the government raises her income so does the low income senior housing or HUD raises her rent. If her check gets to big...the state she lives in N.C. refuses to help pay her medical and her medications go up. This is rediculis...social security is also made for the rich who can afford such things without social security. Can you imagine not wanting a raise for fear of not being able to get food.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  292. Kim Long *

    It means that I will die jus as I lived.
    (with less than 10K in my account)
    Sure my 401k has about 71k in it....
    But I, like most Americans, are one catastrophic medical event away from being slap broke. The irony is, I'm responsible, and there's always too much month at the end of the money.
    .... Singing while I skip....
    I OWE-I OWE (you know the jingle)

    August 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  293. Bonnie in Arkansas

    It means it takes every dime we make to pay the bills and have a decent life. Savings? Don't make me laugh. Fortunately we don't have kids worrying about how much they will inherit.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  294. Rob Garcia III

    Its just another sign that our country's poor and middle class aren't being able to attain the " American Dream", It's easy for people to say, well why didnt you prepare for the future, but like Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby " whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." If we the lower and working middle class want things to change then we must VOTE!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  295. Robert Ernster

    It means they figured out the medical profession and insurance companies comspire to wipe them out no matter how much they save or are insured. So, why not spend and enjoy before they get to that point? Rob in Madison, SD

    August 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  296. marcus, detroit, michigan

    really? it means that things are not that bad for me as i thought. i guess now i can supersize my meals at mcdonald's and maybe upgrade my car into the 21st century. maybe i can switch parties and become a republican now that i'm rich.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  297. bc in LA

    My mother worked hard her whole life but died poor. She did live as rich a life as anyone and she never complained what others had and what she didn't have. Great role model!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  298. Gottlieb Schlittenfahrt

    It means that if Romney wins the election and/or the Republicans gain seats in either house of Congress we're crewed!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  299. Hey Look, Bop Blogs

    I'm reminded of how my mother lived – painfully stretching every bit of her social security check. She wasn't frivolous ever. She was widowed young and raised a houseful of kids alone. Her life was never free of money concernsr. She was a good, hard-working woman who exemplied the words: life's not fair.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  300. Mike C.

    Sorry I can't feel sorry for anyone (even elderly) who couldn't save a quarter of the dollar that they earned during their peak earning years. People have children that they cannot afford. Spend on luxuries they cannot afford and then grow old and poor. Are we really supposed to have sympathy for people who couldn't find ways to live at or below their means?

    August 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  301. Danny Los Angeles ca.

    Jack you and wolf,looked a bit out of touch there,yes America is disparate for work trickle down doesn't work bottom line .we need jobs or this number is going to be much worse,remember these numbers were during some of America's best years imagine twenty years from now.we have serious problems and government must work at a faster pace a bit of socialism maybe called for when the rich don't answer the call for jobs.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  302. Bob Gimbi

    With the Greedy bankers, politicians, and all the red tape in gov't, Iam sure it will get worse, before it ever gets better!!! Might be time to move from USA

    August 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  303. Shawn in TX

    We are a country of financial illiterates. Schools, parents, industry all do a poor job of teaching financial life skills. Very few learn how to build wealth so they can live comfortably in retirement or beyond their working years.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  304. Pat in Denver, CO

    It means that I am even more astounded that those over 65 tend to support Romney.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  305. Scott - Tucson

    More and more Americans are sheltering their incomes, putting trusts together, etc. Their Wealth when they die is often times grossly misrepresented. Look at Tricky Mitt – he's a perfect example – put your cash offshore, shelter, shelter, shelter.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  306. Gail Fitzpatrick

    Don't worry about it, Jack. The market will take care of everything!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  307. John, Mississippi

    It means that managing your money is more important than ever. Making sure that you have enough money for your retirement years begins early. Knowing how to live within your means during your working years so that you can save for retirement is essential.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  308. Rick Hardman

    It means Reganomics "trickle down" and the GOP core objectives have been working pretty well. Have heart though, give them another dozen or so years and your number of Americans who die with less than 10 K will be closer to 90% and less than 1K..

    August 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  309. Jason on Maui

    It means older Americans know how to budget! If all they have left is $10,000 then they obviously have timed their demise in coordination with thei last of there assets very well. Now that you mention it, I am trying to figure out how much I will need to retire one day. I want to know the secret of this very succesful formula.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  310. mark smith

    It means that our standard of living has fallen and will continue to fall to the point where most people die with near zero in the bank and government support shrinks to the point where the majority of seniors live month to month.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  311. john thompson

    does the study regcognize that medicare forces seniors to "spend down" before receiving benifits? unless the seniors spend money to create a trust to sheild their assests, they will have less than ten thousand dollars very quickly.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  312. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    Jack: There's no simple answer. We're living longer. We're spending the last days of our lives in nursing homes; public assistance programs for these costly homes don't kick in until our assets are nearly drained.. Many older folks have already transferred most of their assets to relatives. Many of us lost our careers and pensions as greedy vultures like Mitt Romney abolished them in their leveraged buyouts. Many of us also lost a good deal of our assets in bitter divorce settlements. I invite you to attend the soup kitchen Saturday where I help to serve meals to so many needy and homeless here; Half of our population believes Mittt Romney's lies – there's no "safety net".

    August 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  313. Dave

    Jack,

    It means that we are not all so well off as we pretend to be.

    Dave
    Grand Island NY

    August 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  314. nehumanuscrede

    "Americans are poorly educated when it comes to money. People live beyond their means. Other people are proud they live "within" their means. The real way to accumulate a nest egg for comfortable retirement is to live beneath your means. A minimum of 10 percent of your income should be socked away for your old age. Even workers of modest means have hundreds of thousands of dollars pass through their hands during their working lives. If they spend it all, they will end up being old, frail and destitute."

    Which, in planning, is a great idea. In reality, you end up with cancer or some other issue that is incredibly expensive to treat or combat and you'll see those savings vaporize in a very short period of time.

    I've seen $500,000 hospital bills for a two week stay. No insurance or medicare coverage ? You're done. Thanks for playing.

    My mother died earlier this year with $25k in her account. Half of that was earmarked for outstanding debt ( all of which was medical bills for cancer treatment btw ) the other half was consumed by attorneys during the estate process.

    Bottom line:

    You can try to save all you like for retirement. You cannot, however, plan for every contingency once you retire. Just do what you can and hope for the best.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  315. Donovan - California

    It means that Americans like to pretend that we are the richest, smartest, best, strongest country in the world but, we are very far from it. Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh and all the other neocons like to extol American exceptionalism, and, our healthcare system: What a joke! We let our seniors (who were proud Americans who paid taxes and served in uniform) go through their old age in desperation: Do I get medicine or do I turn on the heater? That is American exceptionalism? As long as the Pentagon gets it's $600 billion its all good though??? Paul Ryan – cut SS, cut Medicare we are in too much debt but, please give the rich more tax breaks, and while your at it, give Boeing and Northrop Grunman some more bloated gubmint contracts.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  316. Scott Titensor

    Once upon a time American workers were able to earn a pension. Now its SSI and only SSI. We all need to save of course but few can really save the kind of money needed in old age. Most countries make sure that their elderly population has a reasonable standard of living. Companies need to go back to pensions. The only people that have them are those with government jobs, good for them, sad for everyone else.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  317. Lamont

    Jack, It means the promise is greater than the delivery. Our economic system is marketed to the world as the best chance for upward mobility in the social classes. What they don't tell you is how much it will cost. Most of the seniors you speak of are far from lazy, and some worked into their 70's, but through the simple cost of living were prevented from attaining the American dream. The truth is plainly that the American dream is sold to everyone, but there is only room for a small minority for it to pay out.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  318. Lance Webster

    Ask Edward Bernays what it means. OK he's dead. I'll tell you what he'd say. Bernays was the 'father' of corporate public relations, and corporations now control everything. He wrote: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses" is working. If we leave out the word "intelligent." With a couple of simple PR phone calls in the 1920's he got millions of women to take up smoking. Good job, Edward!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  319. Mike

    You do realize your funeral will cost money don't you? With the attitudes of some towards their children/heirs on here, might want to prepay for that.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  320. JeffinIL

    It means we don't work hard enough. Just ask any employer.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  321. marybeth, massachusetts

    Maybe it means they're very smart and have turned over their assets to their kids so the nursing home doesn't get every last penny of what they worked a lifetime to build.

    Or, maybe it means that Mitt Romney and his ilk and the Republicans have been wildly successful in transferring so much wealth to the top 1% while shipping jobs overseas, letting Wall Street and the banking/financial services industry run amok so they could steal people's pensions (if they were lucky enough to have one).

    It means that we're now a third world country, a banana republic, with a small handful of people controlling all of the wealth and power and the rest living in poverty.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  322. Casey from Texas

    Dear Jack

    Too many people lived as though they were going to be taken care of in their old age... just to find out; the government doesn’t care about you. They will lie to you every single day if it means they get your vote. Forget about the government, they are not there to help you. The only one that can help the old, are their loved ones. We have all been conned.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  323. cosmo

    Wall Street broke all of us who had retirement with 401ks ..wheres our bail out? I see their CEOs still are getting paid millions. The Feds cut intrest rates and keep them at 0. The US Government does nothing to help the people anymore. Only the super rich. I pray for a all out Cilvil war and to take back our country.

    .

    August 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  324. Mary Beth

    It means that the middle class has been on a sinking ship for a number of years. Pensions were traded in for 401K accounts because that was better for the corporations and Wall Street. I expect that it will not be long before those who used to be in the middle class find themselves in a new type of "serfdom" of the 21st century model.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm |