A recent poll finds 52% of Americans say their top financial goals is paying off debt or just getting by, compared to 21% who said their greatest priority was saving for retirement.

The poll of employed Americans was taken in 2008 by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, Los Angeles. The center was founded by Transamerica Retirement Services, a unit of AEGON N.V., the Netherlands.

TCRS found considerable variations among age groups. For instance, among Generation X–those aged from 25 to 44 years–16% said saving for retirement was their main priority in 2008, while 29% of baby boomers–aged 45 to 63–cited retirement as their top goal.

Boomers were putting aside an average of 9% of their salary into their 401(k), compared to an average of 6% by Gen Xers.

TCRS also found 23% of boomers and 21% of Gen Xers said they had increased the amount of 401(k) set-aside in 2008, which was down for both groups from 2007, when 26% of boomers and 30% of Gen Xers reported increasing the percentage of salary alloted to their plans.

The study also found 50% of boomers in 2008 were confident in their ability to retire fully with a comfortable lifestyle, down from 54% in that age group who felt the same way in 2007. Among Gen Xers, 51% said in 2008 they thought they could retire comfortably, down from 59% in 2007.