Some financial experts lament the absence of proper financial investment knowledge among workers whose retirement portfolios grow thinner as a result. "Even if a 401(k) is available in the workplace many employees are not familiar with some basic 401(k) terms," notes Douglas Dubitsky, vice president of product management for Guardian Retirement Solutions, a division of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. "If these terms don't have much of a footprint among participants, then they're not fully engaging with generating retirement savings."

Others say  the lack of good retirement saving strategies is not only an education problem, but also a self-assurance problem. "Most Americans are not confident enough to retire comfortably," says Steve Anzuoni, a financial advisor with Fairway Financial in South Yarmouth, Mass. "They don't understand the importance of saving money, and didn't learn proper money management skills from their parents."

Or, the problem could run deeper than simply not knowing about money and finances. "I believe the problem has to do with a bias called hyperbolic discounting," explains Eric Sajdak, chief investment officer at Fox River Capital, a Wisconsin-based registered investment advisory firm. "In that regard, people have trouble accurately valuing the future value of money. Most people irrationally would rather spend $5 on a coffee they can't truly afford today, rather than put that same $5 into a retirement fund."

Whatever the problem (and certainly the reasons above all of have validity), millions of Americans are doing a lousy job of saving for retirement -- and the ramifications of that shortfall will surely be felt across the nation when these workers hit retirement age.

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