Save for Retirement? Americans say YOLO.

Americans are saving less than they were before the pandemic.
April 1, 2024
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globe with tourist attractions and planes flying over them

YOLO’s endlessly adaptable nature reaches new heights as Americans begin to use the term when asked about retirement savings.

Americans are saving less than they were before the pandemic.

FRED chart showing personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income decreasing in recent years

The drop-off in savings coincides with a strong spending boom:

  • In 2023, consumer spending on foreign trips and live entertainment rose nearly 30 percent, per The Washington Post.
  • Personal consumption expenditures increased by $145.5 billion in Feb. 2024 compared to Jan. 2024, per the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

One theory is that the COVID-19 pandemic altered how Americans think about money—we want to live our lives to the fullest while we are young since the future is not guaranteed.

Another more optimistic theory: Americans are just spending down the extra $430 billion in pandemic savings, according to estimates from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

What’s that? The sound of my credit card as I YOLO book myself a trip to Asia this summer. Hand up, I am the problem.

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