As a futurist, I know that I really should have a lot more for retirement than I should. But suddenly my bad habit of not putting enough money in my 401K seems like a brilliant strategy. From the Washington Post:

Retirement Savings Lose $2 Trillion in 15 Months

The stock market’s prolonged tumble has wiped out about $2 trillion in Americans’ retirement savings in the past 15 months, a blow that could force workers to stay on the job longer than planned, rein in spending and possibly further stall an economy reliant on consumer dollars, Congress’s top budget analyst said yesterday….

For many Americans, pensions and 401(k) plans are their only form of savings. The dwindling of these assets — about a 20 percent decline overall — is another setback just as many people are grappling with higher gas and food prices, more credit card debt, declining home values and less access to loans….

Defined-benefit plans are company-sponsored programs that provide retirement payouts based on an employee’s salary and tenure. The company shoulders the bulk of the investment decisions and risk. Defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s, turn those tasks over to the worker and are subject to the whims of the stock market.

Increasingly, employers have switched workers into defined-contribution plans. The federal government has also pushed 401(k) plans heavily, approving a law late last year that makes it easier for employers to automatically enroll their employees in them and other similar retirement plans.

[via wparker]