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Ed Jones Survey Says: Americans Want to Save

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A recent survey of 1,000-plus adults conducted by Edward Jones shows 33 percent of Americans believe ‘increase savings’ will be their top financial resolution for 2010.

Increase savings topped the list for both men and women, along with other financially-focused resolutions such as paying down debt (30%) and putting more money into your child’s or grandchild’s education (13%), the company says.

“A fresh start to the year signals ample opportunity to explore new financial strategies like enrolling in a retirement plan, enlisting the help of a financial advisor and making sure you have a balanced portfolio that includes an appropriate amount of quality investments,” says Clif Helbert, a partner in retirement plan marketing with Edward Jones.

Other responses included contributing more money to a 401(k) or IRA plan (9%), paying down mortgage faster (7%) and begin working with a financial advisor (3%). Interestingly, nearly twice as many men than women are planning to contribute more money to a retirement plan in 2010 (11% vs. 6%).

Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 and over the age of 65 are most concerned about increasing savings (37% and 38% respectively) while middle aged respondents place a higher priority on paying down debt (ranging from 31% to 37%). Older Americans (aged 65 and over) are most concerned with providing educational funding for their offspring (16%) but less concerned with paying down debt than their younger counterparts (18% vs. 37%).

In terms of geography, the south had the highest percentage of respondents who chose to increase savings (37%) but the lowest percentage who plan to contribute more money to their retirement plan (7%).

Meanwhile, Americans who live in the north central region consider paying down debt a higher priority than putting money into their child’s or grandchild’s education (36% and 7% respectively).

Differences in household income also had an impact on responses. Those with a household income of less than $35,000 were more likely to choose increase savings as their top financial goal than those with an income between $75,000 – $100,000 (39% and 26%). Interestingly, American households with income less than $35,000 and more than $100,000 are evenly split (16%) when it comes to funding their child’s education.

Respondents’ ethnic background also played a part in determining resolutions for the coming year. While Whites rank increase savings (31%) and pay down debt (29%) almost evenly, Hispanics show a greater disparity in opinion, with 39% hoping to increase savings over paying down debt (26%). Whites are also more concerned with paying off their mortgage faster (10%) than both African Americans (3%) and Hispanics (4%).

The survey showed little difference in opinion based on education level, yet household size significantly shaped respondents’ views on contributing to a child’s education or retirement. Thirty-five percent of respondents with three family members or more rate paying down debt a top priority, compared to respondents with only two family members (25%).