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Debt-saving imbalance trend continues to worry policymakers

Back in April we wrote about data from the Census Bureau that indicated that America's seniors are taking on more debt than any other generational demographic. The concern expressed at that time was that the ratio of debt to savings, especially for those in the older age bracket, is so skewed to the debt side of things that it threatens to erode the standard of living for the group in its retirement years.

Now, building off that same data and bolstered by some additional research of its own, the financial advice firm HelloWallet has issued a report indicating that the problem is only getting worse. The upshot of the trend, the company says, is that a growing number of people who are currently working could find themselves struggling to find workable debt management strategies later in the midst of their retirement years.

According to the report, 60 percent of workers with 401(k) defined contribution accounts fall into the category of being "debt savers." That is, they increase debt through mortgages, credit cards or installment loans faster than they increase savings for retirement.

Government has tried to respond by making saving more attractive with tax breaks, automatic retirement account enrollment and automatic 401(k) deduction increases. But the scales are only dipping lower on the debt side of things.

The issue, experts say, is that proper planning and debt management require a holistic approach. There are a lot of different bases to cover to ensure a solid retirement. Debt management is one. Saving discipline is another. But HelloWallet's founder says government policy has focused on just the savings facet and it hasn't been enough.

This leads experts to conclude that individuals need to take greater responsibility to understand their complete financial situation and the implications their personal debt-saving ratios may have on their plans for a financially secure future.

Source: WashingtonPost.com, "Most Americans accumulating debt faster than they’re saving for retirement," Michael A. Fletcher, Oct. 23, 2013

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