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13 Reasons You’re Still Not Investing For Retirement…and How to Fix It!

1 in 3 Americans have $0 saved for retirement. Well that’s a pretty scary stat! Unfortunately, there’s more where that came from! Did you know that 56% of Americans have less than $10,000 in their retirement?? 56%??? Yikes!

It seems like no matter how many financial advisors scream from the rooftops about the importance of investing, there are still plenty of people that are just not saving for their retirement.

13 Reasons You’re Still Not Investing For Retirement…

So what gives?

What is so important that people can’t scrounge up a few bucks a month to put toward their retirement funds?

still not investing for retirement1) Believe They Don’t Earn Enough to Invest

The median household income is $57,617 per year. After you take out living expenses, vehicle costs, food, and clothing, there’s honestly not that much left. Heck, once you start thinking about investing, something else seems to break that costs you thousands of dollars. You just can’t get ahead!

How to Fix This:

If you’re 23 years old, every dollar you decide not to invest today is stealing $32 from your future 63-year-old self. Let that sink in for a second… If you put $100 in retirement today, that will likely be $3,200 when you’re 63.

Put in $0, and you get $0.


It’s time for a reality check. Either you need to raise your income or tighten your budget. This belief that you can’t do it needs to change.

2) Investing is Too Complex

I mean…have you watched CNBC lately?? Puts? Shorts? Monetary policy? What the heck are these people talking about? Non-finance people see stuff like this and they run for the hills. They just think they don’t know enough about the markets to start investing there.

How to Fix This:

The TV financial personalities are idiots.


All they worry about is what’s happening today and that’s how they give their advice for the future. Most of the time, they’re wrong and their own personal finances are a mess. Don’t worry about them. In fact, don’t even watch their show – I don’t.

Instead, take a look at what your 401k offers and choose a fund that has a long history of positive growth. Personally, I choose an S&P Index fund and it’s done awesome!

That’s it, you’re done. Not complicated, not a huge hassle, and your future self is now ecstatic!

3) Don’t Trust Financial Advisors

Financial advisors…they’re just greedy sales people in a nice suit. They’re not all that interested in you or your success. They just want their cut of your loot.

It’s true, financial advisors can be pretty slimy. Whether you win or lose, they still get paid. It’s not a great formula for you, that’s for sure.

How to Fix This:

There are a few decent advisors out there. If you know of one that has the heart of a teacher and you really want to work with them, then sure, by all means, let them help you with your investments. But, if you don’t, just take the advice from point #2. Start investing on your own and keep it simple!

Related: How to Manage Your 401k Like a Pro

4) The Markets are Too Risky

Remember 2008-2009? The markets tanked! Over the course of just a few months, the Dow went from $14,000 down to $6,500!! I heard a few accounts where people lost nearly everything they had invested! To some, the market is just too risky. They’d rather stuff their money under a mattress than lose it on a few bad stock picks!

How to Fix This:

Keep your head in the long term.

What happened since the Dow plummeted to $6,500? It’s risen to over $25,000! So, sure it went down from $14,000, but it has come back and nearly doubled since then! BOOM! If you were not investing for retirement during that stretch, I bet you’re kicking yourself today!

Invest with the market, do your best to keep your hands off the investments (ie. Don’t go in and out of the market. That’s a recipe for disaster), and you’ll likely win financially!

If you’re still not so sure about the stock market, choose somewhere else to invest your money! There are plenty of other options. Check out this post I wrote a couple years ago: How to Invest Outside Your 401k.

5) They’d Rather Buy Stuff Today

This is the case of one marshmallow today or two marshmallows tomorrow. More and more people are choosing to live life to the fullest today and not worrying about tomorrow until it gets here.

…Well that’s a recipe for disaster…

How to Fix It:

The problem is, it’s not a one marshmallow for two marshmallow trade. As we already stated above, it’s one marshmallow for a potential 32!

So today you can go wild and buy a brand new $30,000 Chevy Malibu, but you’re giving up the million dollar mansion later in life… Hmmm, perhaps you should start thinking a little harder about what you want – both today and 40 years from now. Are your purchases today lining up with what you want in the future??

Related: 7 Reasons I Bought a Crappy House Instead of My Dream Car

6) Don’t Have a Retirement Plan at Work

Work doesn’t offer a 401k. It kind of sucks because if they did you would definitely sign up, but for now I guess you’ll just have to put off retirement…

How to Fix It:

Really?? This is your excuse for not investing for retirement?

Okay, so you have no pension and you have no 401k option. So what? You can quickly and easily open an IRA with Vanguard. It’s simple, they have plenty of investment options for you to choose from, and you can set up a direct payment from your paycheck – almost like having that auto-withdraw into your 401k.

7) The Job Is Only Temporary

Your current job…it’s only temporary. You’ll likely get something new in 6 months, so there’s really no need to start investing…

How to Fix It:

…and then you end up sticking around at that job for 10 years…. It absolutely happens! Sometimes that temporary job holds onto you for longer than you think it might, and then you’re SOL when you start to think about retirement down the road.

If you think you might be at your job for just a few months and don’t want to start investing in their 401k plan, then just invest as if they didn’t offer one. ie. Use the fix in point #6 and open up an IRA outside of work. If you leave that job, no biggie, just keep investing. If you stay, again, no biggie. You just keep contributing to that IRA!

8 ) There’s Plenty of Time

You’re 23 years old and you just started your full-time job. You’re not investing for retirement because there’s plennnnnnty of time to get started on those investments later. For now, you’re just going to embrace point #5 and buy a nice car, enjoy time with friends, and take a few vacations here and there. You can start investing when you’re 30.

How to Fix It:

You’re right. You’re still young. Buuuuut, you should probably understand this before you decide to put off investing. You know that one marshmallow that actually turns into 32? Wait to invest until you’re thirty and that 32 drops down to 16.

That million dollar mansion becomes a $500,000 “pretty-nice-house”.

If that’s what you want to do, fine. But you’ve got to realize that by waiting just 7-8 years, your future retirement could be cut in half. Is that something you’re willing to do?

9) Too Much Debt

You graduated from college (yay!), you landed your first job (double yay!), and now you’re looking at the bills. Ugh. Student loans are killing you. One thousand dollars a month?? How could you possibly invest while making those massive payments?

How to Fix It:

Great point. This is why I tell people to do their best not to go into debt in the first place, but since you’re here, let’s figure out how to tackle this beast.

First off, it makes absolutely no sense to invest while paying off debt. Basically, by earning money in one area and losing it in another, you’re just treading water and going nowhere…for 10+ years. Don’t do this.

Instead, tackle your debt with a vengeance! Take on extra jobs, reduce your expenses to nothing, and pay off your debt as soon as possible. THEN, it makes sense to invest, and then you can do it heavily because you have absolutely no payments.

Need help? Check out this post on the debt snowball. It will help you organize your debts, AND it comes with a free Debt Snowball tool that will tell you how quickly you could pay them all off!

10) Fear of Money Being Inaccessible

If you put money away into a 401k or an IRA account, you can’t get at it without being penalized by Uncle Sam unless you’re 59 1/2 years old! So…some people would rather keep their money where they can access it anytime (ie. so they can spend it foolishly once in a while and never build up a nest egg).

How to Fix It:

It’s true. If you put your money into a retirement account, that means that it’s tied up for a while…but that’s a good thing! Your future retirement is important, so you should save up and leave that money alone until your old decrepit years!

I mean c’mon, would you rather have a retirement of travel, warm weather, and fancy everything?…or a future of SPAM and trailer park living?

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely choosing everything fancy! 😉

11) Paying for Kids’ College Instead

You’ve got a decent income, but (and this is a BIG ‘but’) you’ve got kids that have dreams of going to college. If given the choice between serving yourself or your kids, most good parents choose their kids!

How to Fix It:

Alright alright, let’s not get carried away here. Sure, college is important, but teaching your kids responsibility is important too. Let them have some skin in the game. Make them work to earn money so they understand how difficult it is to fund a college education. Without this, they’ll probably act like your stupid friends that skipped class, drank wayyyy too much, and used student loan money to fund their Spring Break…

Second, by funding your kids’ college today and totally ignoring retirement, you’re going to make them resent you later.

Here’s how your life will go:

  • You put them through college and start saving for retirement when you’re 54
  • By 65, you’re able to scrimp and save your way to $200,000
  • You get aches and pains (in case you didn’t know, this is what happens when you get old) and can no longer work, forcing you into an early retirement
  • By age 75, you’re out of money and your kids are forced to float you money until you die
  • You leave them nothing because you have nothing

Sounds pretty crappy, huh? Instead of going this route, you can do one of two things. 

  1. Earn more money so you can do both – fund your retirement AND their college tuition, or
  2. Tell them in their early teenage years that you won’t be able to fund their college for them. If they really want to go, they’ll figure out a way (scholarships, hard work, community college, etc.)

12) You Feel Selfish

You’ve got a nice roof over your head, plenty of food in your refrigerator, and a closet jammed full of the latest fashions….and you still have money left over. While your friends are living paycheck to paycheck, you could really be socking money away.

But you don’t.

You feel undeserving, and unworthy to be in such a fortunate position.

So, instead of investing the extra money, you just keep spending it and you give a fair amount away. You’re not intentionally trying to avoid investing for retirement, but it just sort of happens (or I guess….doesn’t happen).

How to Fix It:

This just sounds like the stupidest thing in the world, doesn’t it? But it’s absolutely real for some people.

My ex actually had quite a bit of trouble with this. We bought a nice used Jeep for cash back in the day, and her friend found out we didn’t have any payments. The relationship became weird and my ex almost felt guilty for having money when others didn’t…which caused her to save less and invest nothing.

I didn’t know how to solve the problem back then (notice…I’m talking about my ex… hahaha! ;)), but after having read the book, “The Legacy Journey,” by Dave Ramsey, I’ve got a whole new position on this topic. Basically, either we can be wealthy and help thousands because of it, or we can forgo the wealth and hope that some random magnate will take care of it. If you’re truly trying not to think of yourself, you’ll be the wealthy one that helps thousands.

13) Parents are Rich, No Need to Invest

Your parents are rich, so there’s really no need for you to invest. When they die, you’ll inherit their wealth and their business. You’ll be set for the rest of your life.

How to Fix It:

Well, good for your parents for earning their way to wealth…but shame on them for raising such a bratty, self-centered kid.


Sure, they’ve got money now, but who’s to say that they’ll still be rich 30 years from now? Maybe they plan to sell the business and spend all their money on travel! Maybe someone sues them and they lose everything. Or, maybe the product/service becomes obsolete and they go out of business!

So many things can happen between now and your retirement years, I wouldn’t bank on anything except what you can control yourself. Plus, wouldn’t it just feel better to take care of yourself instead of always depending on mommy and daddy?

…in case you’re hesitating…the answer is, “yes”.

From “Still Not Investing for Retirement” to “Investing With a Vengeance”!!

If you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and you’re still not investing in retirement due to some of the reasons above, hopefully I just convinced you that you’re ridiculous and you should start investing as soon as possible!!

Seriously, people. While it might not seem like the end of the world if you put off investing for just another year or two, life just has a way of getting away from us. Before you know it, that year or two turns into five, then 10, and then 20. Suddenly, you know you’re just screwed and you’ll be wishing (like all of the current 50 year-olds) that you started investing in your 20’s.

Instead of just wishing that you invested earlier in life, take action right now. Take my advice and hit up Vanguard to start your retirement accounts.

Is Vanguard still a bit too intimidating for you? Not sure what investments to pick? Then go with Wealthsimple. I’ve invested with them for almost a year now and couldn’t be happier. Their options are simple, they’re completely honest, and they’re available in Canada too! Oh, and start investing through this special affiliate link and earn a free $50 by investing just $100! It’s a pretty nice perk you might not want to pass up (even if you are investing with Vanguard)!

You know what I really want to have happen with this article? I’d love for the young people to give me all their excuses in the comments below, and then all the older people to tell them to shut their trap and just start investing (because it’s what they really needed to hear when they were younger)! To the comments!!! 🙂

Battle of the Mind Investing Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. There’s always something in the way if you don’t think the thing you should be doing is important enough to do! There’s always a reason you can put it off (more time!) or decide you can’t do (I’d rather buy stuff!). I think the best way to overcome this is to meet someone who is nearing retirement who has nothing saved. The stories of people who are well into their 60s who have to work minimum wage jobs because they never saved. Those stories are HEARTBREAKING but it’s about decisions and it can open your eyes to the alternatives to not saving for retirement.

    • It is always terrible to hear those stories where people never saved and are now paying dearly for it. And that’s why we do what we do! Hopefully we can make an impact in a few lives so people don’t end up there!

  2. Those people in their 60s who have to work minimum wage jobs probably never earned enough to save.

    I live a few hundred dollars a year above poverty level and room rent consumes half my income.

    If I had a little more space I could work from home and make 3x more money but I can’t afford to get into that extra space so I think I’m stuck.

    • You know what, Terry? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. There’s always an option to better yourself and earn more somewhere. Keep looking. Keep your eyes and ears open, and I bet something will happen for you. This post might help – choose the rich mentality!!

  3. my current company now automatically invests employees at in our 401K at 3% (though you need 6% to receive the full match).
    I was fortunate to have had my coworkers encourage me to sign up for the 401K right out of college, and every time I’d get a raise to put in a percentage of it into the 401K since it was cash you didn’t already have on hand and you wouldn’t necessarily miss. I do that for the newer coworkers now, but they have motivation for the match with money being left on the table. It wasn’t necessarily easier, especially at the beginning with student loans and later when we bought a house, but I like having the safety net.

    • So now you’ve got a nice nest egg, I bet! Good for you, Heather!!

  4. There are many excuses that people make to not plan. They think it is so far off into the future and things will just work out. The biggest reason that I see is that people are not willing to make any sacrifices today for a better tomorrow. It is hard to budget, live within your means, and save. Most people don’t even give it much thought. They are too caught up in the day.

    • Yup, totally agree with you, Dave. We’re becoming a very short-sighted society unfortunately.

  5. I opened my Ira the day I took my final college final at age 21 and while seriously pregnant. Sure at that point I was only putting in $20 a month but I’m so glad I did as it made it easier to increase the contributions as I made more and I never had to think about starting one again, it’s just a given.

    • Half the battle is just getting started! After that, every other tweak is a cinch!

  6. You nailed it!

    We live in mental bubbles, not wanting to see th reality, because it scares us. The capacity for human self-delusion is infinite!

    I like your “8 ) There’s Plenty of Time”. Who thinks about saving for retirement? Only people who think about retirement. And when I was young, the idea of retirement.. well that was somewhere later, in the future… so I ignored savings at the time.

    There is a solution! Young people should be told to BUILD WEALTH! That will take care of saving for retirement because in most cases, it’s the same thing! At least Building Wealth is something young people can understand and be interested in.

    • The reality is, not everyone will save for retirement when they’re young, but maybe I can have an impact on just a few! And, when they’re 65 and eating lobster instead of dog food, I bet they’ll thank me. 😉

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