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One Third of Americans Haven’t Saved for Retirement. You Should!

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For most Americans, receiving a pension in old age is about as likely as spotting a unicorn heading out for a morning jog. And Social Security won’t see you through your golden years comfortably, so you’d better have a retirement savings account to live on if you don’t want to work until the day you die.

Unfortunately, most people aren’t heading in that direction, a new survey by the financial services site GOBankingRates finds. The survey of 4500 adults from different generations finds that one third of respondents had no retirement savings at all—including 28 percent of Americans 55 years or older, who presumably want to retire sooner rather than later.

Image Credit: GOBankingRates

More than half of those surveyed had less than $10,000 saved for retirement. This isn’t so much a sign that all of America has become fiscally irresponsible as it is that the impact of the Great Recession isn’t over. It’s hard to put money away to use decades from now when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, and crushing student debt makes it really hard to save for retirement—one 2015 report found that people starting out with $30,000 in student debt will end up with $325,000 less in retirement savings over time than someone who came out of college debt-free.

Moreover, the survey found that women were 27 percent more likely to have nothing in their retirement savings accounts compared to men. The gender gap in retirement savings likely stems from several issues. According to the Department of Labor, "Women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don't qualify for a retirement plan." If they take time off from work (especially because of a lack of paid parental leave), they work fewer total years. And when they are working, women on average make less than men. The average full-time female worker in the United States makes just 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. Working fewer years and making less money overall means being able to set aside less for retirement—even though women tend to live longer than men (thus requiring more funds).

Image Credit: JP Morgan

Even if you haven’t begun saving for retirement yet, it’s better to start now than to put it off for a few more years. Thanks to compound interest, retirement savings accounts grow most if you put a little money in them over a long period of time, rather than a lot of money all at once. The graph above, from JP Morgan, sums it up nicely.

You may think that you don’t have enough extra cash to sock away funds for decades, but you shouldn’t wait for that raise to enroll in your employer’s 401(k) or open an IRA. Put away as much as you can now, even if that seems like a paltry amount, because it’s likely that Social Security will not be the same when today's young workers retire—the agency only has enough money right now to pay out benefits until 2041, after which it’s likely that benefits will be reduced.

[h/t Time]

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These Are the Top 25 U.S. Cities With the Lowest Cost of Living
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Coastal cities like New York and San Francisco bustle with excitement, but residents pay plenty of hard-earned cash to enjoy perks like Central Park and world-class museums—and to pay their sky-high rents. If you’d rather have a full bank account than a hipster ZIP code, consider setting down roots in America’s most affordable region: the Midwest.

Niche, a data analysis company, has ranked the 25 cities with the lowest cost of living across the United States—and the top 10 are all located in America’s heartland. Their selections were based on factors including access to affordable housing, food and fuel costs, and median tax rates, all of which were gleaned from U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Indiana was the most-represented state in the list’s top 10 section, with Fort Wayne, Evansville, and South Bend nabbing the first three spots. The remaining cities were mid-sized metropolitan areas in Kansas, Ohio, Iowa, and Illinois, all of which offer urban conveniences at a fraction of the cost of their coastal counterparts. After that, other cities in the mix included municipalities in Texas, Michigan, Alabama, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Check out Niche's top 25 list below, and visit their website to view their methodology.

1. Fort Wayne, Indiana
2. Evansville, Indiana
3. South Bend, Indiana
4. Topeka, Kansas
5. Toledo, Ohio
6. Wichita, Kansas
7. Akron, Ohio
8. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
9. Davenport, Iowa
10. Springfield, Illinois
11. Rochester, Minnesota
12. Dayton, Ohio
13. Springfield, Missouri
14. Wichita Falls, Texas
15. Kansas City, Kansas
16. Odessa, Texas
17. Cleveland, Ohio
18. Indianapolis, Indiana
19. Abilene, Texas
20. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
21. Montgomery, Alabama
22. Lansing, Michigan
23. Des Moines, Iowa
24. Brownsville, Texas
25. Warren, Michigan

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Switzerland Flushes $1.8 Million in Gold Down the Sewer Every Year
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Switzerland has some pretty valuable sewer systems. As Bloomberg reports, scientists have discovered around $1.8 million worth of gold in the country's wastewater, along with $1.7 million worth of silver.

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology examined sewage sludge and effluents, or discharged liquid waste, from 64 water treatment plants and major Swiss rivers. They did this to assess the concentrations of various trace elements, which are "increasingly widely used in the high-tech and medical sectors," the scientists explained in a press statement. "While the ultimate fate of the various elements has been little studied to date, a large proportion is known to enter wastewater."

The study, which was recently published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, revealed that around 94 pounds of gold makes its way through Switzerland's sewage system each year, along with 6600 pounds of silver and high concentrations of rare metals like gadolinium and niobium. For the most part, these metals don't harm the environment, researchers say.

With gold and silver quite literally flowing through their sewers, is there any way that Switzerland could turn their wastewater into wealth? Scientists are skeptical: "The recovery of metals from wastewater or sludge is scarcely worthwhile at present, either financially or in terms of the amounts which could be extracted," the release explains.

However, in the southern canton of Ticino, which is home to several gold refineries, the "concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile," they conclude.

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, watches, and mountains, but it's also home to major gold refineries. On average, around 70 percent of the world's gold passes through Switzerland every year—and judging from the looks of it, much of it goes down the drain. As for the sewer silver, it's a byproduct of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, which is a cornerstone of Switzerland's economy.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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