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SKIP: On the other side of the coin, why aren’t Americans contributing?

MELLODY: Great question, Skip. Beyond the traditional employer-sponsored plans that help people to invest in their retirement, investing in general is something that many, many Americans miss out on. Employer-backed plans are one of the easiest ways for Americans to own stock. But when it comes to putting money in the stock market, a majority of people are saying no.

According to another recent study, 52% of Americans say they don’t own any stock at all. Respondents sited a number of reasons for this, with the most commonly cited reason being that they say they lack the money to invest. Other reasons people cited include the complexity of the stock market and risk factors involved.

The problem with not contributing is that making your money work by investing it is THE key to building wealth over your lifetime in preparation for retirement. Without doing this, individuals become reliant on Social Security, and that will not replace income in retirement. If Americans do not save for retirement, we risk a much lower standard of living once we cannot work.

SKIP: What should we take away from this?

MELLODY: The big takeaway is that you do not want to be one of the many Americans who are not investing and saving for retirement. If you are one of the many who have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, and you are participating, great. Make sure you are contributing as much as you can, at least up to any employer match. If you have access and are not participating, start now! And if you do not have access to an employer-backed plan, there are options out there. You can establish a retirement plans yourself, through a solo 401(k), the simplified employee pension plan, or SEP, IRA, and the SIMPLE-IRA. Do your research, set an account up and set up automatic contributions to it!

SKIP: Always great to have you on, Mellody. Thank you!

MELLODY: You are welcome, Skip!

Mellody is president of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts. Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.

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Money Mondays: Why It’s Important To Save For Retirement Now  was originally published on

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