Maybe it has to do with the aging population in the US, or maybe it has to do with the fact that I scan personal finance/investment headlines like most people check their email, but it seems to me that there is an obsession with discussing how woefully unprepared the average American is to retire.  A google search of “Average American Retirement Savings” brings up 1,200,000 results and a news search limited to the past month brings up hundreds upon hundreds of results.  Worst part about it? NONE OF THEM MATCH! 

Just taking a few very recent examples:

10/22/2014 – US Today

Middle-class people in the USA have a median of $20,000 saved for retirement, far short of the $250,000 they think they’ll need during that time of their lives, a new survey shows.

A third (34%) of working middle-class adults aren’t contributing anything to a 401(k), IRA or other retirement savings plan, according to the survey of 1,001 adults, ages 25 to 75, with a median household income of $63,000. The survey was conducted by Harris Poll for Wells Fargo (WFC).

10/29/2014 – CBS News / MoneyWatch

The median account value for Americans aged 35 to 44 is just $42,700, while the median value for Americans aged 55 to 64 years old is $103,000. If you’re within one of those age groups and you’re outsaving your peers, then congratulations.

10/31/2014 – US News:

According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, 45 percent of working-age households have no retirement savings at all. Among people 55 to 64, average household retirement savings total only $12,000. For those near retirement who have savings, the average balance is $100,000 – still not much money to finance the next 20 to 30 years.

1/10/2015 – Motley Fool:

The median account value for Americans aged 35 to 44 is just $42,700, while the median value for Americans aged 55 to 64 years old is $103,000. If you’re within one of those age groups and you’re outsaving your peers, then congratulations.

3/15/2015 – NY Times

On average, a typical working family in the anteroom of retirement — headed by somebody 55 to 64 years old — has only about $104,000 in retirement savings, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

Not so shocking there are more examples.

The obvious problem is that the methods used are wildly different and then the mainstream media runs with it.  Some of the studies/surveys cared about age and some didn’t.  Most of the studies cared about lifestyle/net worth while others didn’t…yet main stream organizations just ran with the number.

Whether a 30 year old has $2k or $100k is not as important to society as whether a 55 year old has $2k or $100k.  Similarly, if a person with a net worth of a few million has $500K is as important information to society as if someone with a net worth of $500K has $400k in retirement accounts (obviously, an extreme example).

I am clearly not adding any answers the topic! just annoyed by the sensationalist headlines.