Obama's Initiative to Increase Personal Savings

Saturday, September 5, 2009 |

I found this new article on CNN Money - Obama to workers: We'll help you save - interesting. Overall I think it is a good initiative. Let's take a look at the three main ideas from the initiative:

Auto enrollment in retirement plan. While this is not new, the initiative is to reduce the amount of paper work hurdle. The goal is to have more small and medium sized employers to do this. I think this is great. A lot of time, people are just too lazy to find out more about the retirement savings plan. My only reservation is where is the money is going to be put to. Is it going to money market funds? Or is it going to target retirement funds? While I think Target Date Funds would be good for the automatic enrollment, my concern is not every Target Date Funds are created equal. Some are too aggressive and too expensive (high expense ratios). Having said that, I still think it is a good idea.

Getting tax refunds in U.S. savings bonds. I personally don't like this idea. I think most people will be better served by taking the money and invest it properly. Better yet, I think it would be better if you don't get refund at all because you are essential loaning money to the IRS without any interest. But I know a lot of people like to get money back. However, if you know that you will get money back and you know that if you get it back you will spend it right away, then putting it U.S. savings bonds may be a good idea for you.

Converting unused vacation times and sick days to 401k money. The best idea out of the three. I really like it. I still think for most people, they should use their vacation times, unless if you are allowed to roll it over. We need to balance work and life. However, for some people that are entitled to many vacation times due to the amount of years at the organization, to be able to convert this to 401k vacation money is good. I personally would like this to be capped to at most 50% of total vacation times entitled to the worker each year.
Update: One thing I forgot to note is that this is not mandated, but encouraged. And apparently, this is not a new rule either, but rather an emphasis of existing rule. Check out this article from Marketwatch.

* Photo by alancleaver_2000


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