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Financial Literacy Month: Time to Talk about Retirement Savings

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The average Idaho household has only about $2,500 in retirement savings. (Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
The average Idaho household has only about $2,500 in retirement savings. (Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
April 9, 2021

BOISE, Idaho - April is Financial Literacy Month and one of the keys to good money habits is learning how to save. Unfortunately, many people aren't doing this, said Lupe Wissel, state director of AARP Idaho.

According to an AARP survey, the average savings amount for households near retirement is $14,500. She said this makes retiring comfortably a real challenge - but she said she believes this month is a good time to talk about how the State of Idaho could help folks.

"Begin talking about what we can do as a state to make it easier," said Wissel, "for young people and people of all ages, to begin saving for their retirement, early on in their careers."

Idaho lawmakers considered a program this legislative session, which would have created a state-facilitated retirement system, as an option for voluntary payroll deductions for employees.

The bill died, but Wissel said she hopes they'll take another look in 2022. Three states, including Oregon and Washington, have set up programs like this.

Wissel said the state and federal governments end up filling in the gaps when people don't have enough money for retirement.

A Georgetown University survey found more than half of Idahoans don't have access to a savings plan at work, including 154,000 people at companies with fewer than 25 employees.

Wissel said it can be difficult and costly, especially for small businesses.

"That is why we're trying to figure out a solution, so that employers can participate on a retirement plan and offer it to their employees," said Wissel, "but where they do not have to deal with any of the administrative issues that come with a retirement program."

Wissel said the best advice for young people this month is to think about putting money away now.

"If they start saving now, it will make a huge difference by the time they reach retirement age," said Wissel.

Disclosure: AARP Idaho contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Energy Policy, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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