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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

FINRA Probes Americans' Money Skills

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When asked whether they have ever tried to figure out how much they need to save for retirement, only 42% percent of respondents who are not retired said they had done so.

Even among those aged 45 to 59, only 51% have tried to calculate how much they need to save for their retirement, according to results of the Financial Capability Survey recently conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The survey explored how Americans manage their resources and make financial decisions.


Only 49% of Americans surveyed by the financial regulator say they have set aside money in a “rainy day” fund. FINRA found that 54% of men and 47% of women say they have set aside a rainy day fund, which it defines as money to cover 3 months of bills and expenditures in case a breadwinner loses a job or cannot work.

In addition, 24% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their current financial situation, while 25% said they were satisfied and 51% were neutral or didn’t know.

As for saving in general, 33% of those up to age 60 reported they are not saving at all. Of this group, 66% said they were finding it hard to cover their monthly expenses and pay bills.

Other findings from FINRA’s survey:

–About 33% stated they had experienced a large and unexpected drop in income during the past year.

–49% reported finding it difficult to meet monthly expenses and bills, including almost 14% who said it is very difficult to do so.

–Over the past year, household expenses (not including big purchase such as a new house or car) have been greater than income for 12%, and about equal to income for 36%.

–Just 41% of respondents with dependent children said they were setting aside money for college.

–About 9% have taken out a loan from their retirement accounts during the past 12 months, and almost 5% have taken a permanent hardship withdrawal. These depletions are most prevalent among those earning between $25,000 and $75,000 a year, with more than 10% of this income group borrowing against their retirement savings and nearly 8% taking hardship withdrawals.

–About 16% percent of mortgage borrowers reported having been late on a mortgage payment at least once in the last 2 years, including 10% who had been late more than once.

–Among retirees, 81% said they are using Social Security retirement payments for living expenses, 63% said they were using pension plan payments, 26% cited withdrawals from savings, investments or retirement accounts, 23% cited dividends or interest income and 17% cited salary, wages or self-employment income.

FINRA conducted the survey among about 1,500 Americans, telephoned at random.


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