Most people I know live paycheck to paycheck. They don't save mainly because they are already in the red or close to that. Some of it can be attributed to lack of discipline and lack of education about savings and investment. But the bigger problem is that the cost of living is outpacing income gains and it is getting harder and harder to maintain even modestly middle class living standard. E.g. a family with two kids making a combined income of 100K should be in good shape, right? Not in a place like, say New York City. Between federal, state, and city taxes, social security and medicare taxes and the cost of medical insurance, they'd be lucky to get 5.5K net pay per month. Probably at least a half of that goes for rent. Then they'd get, say, $2300 per month in for all other expenses. That includes utilities, cable, cell phones, bus/subway, kids' daycare and after school activities, dentists, copayments for medical care and medications, groceries, clothing, laundry, etc. Then they are probably already in the red and piling up credit card debt, and that's before they could start thinking about a gym membership, going to a musical performance, a trip to visit aunt Jane in Vermont, a dog for the kids, a family vacation, or the kids' college fund. I can't really blame them for not putting $400 per month in 401k.