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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

Americans continue to struggle with saving

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Most Americans continue to face significant personal savings challenges, according to a new report.

The 7th annual national survey assessing household saving, released today as part of America Saves Week, reveals that only 35 percent of Americans say they are making “good” or “excellent” progress while 63 percent say they were making only “fair” or “no” progress.

“Only about one-third of Americans are living within their means and think they are prepared for the long-term financial future,” says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America and a founder of America Saves. “One-third are living within their means but are often not prepared for this long-term future. And one-third are struggling to live within their means.”

While only about one-third of Americans feel prepared for their long term financial future, a larger percentage say that they are at least paying their bills and saving a little.

About two-thirds (68 percent) report that they are spending less than their income and saving the difference. This figure was up from 65 percent in 2013 though much lower than the 73 percent in 2010.

Moreover, 64 percent say that they “have sufficient emergency savings to pay for unexpected expenses like car repairs or a doctor visit.” And about three-quarters (76 percent) say they are reducing their consumer debt, or are consumer debt-free.

These two numbers are about where they were last year, though they are lower than in 2010 when 71 percent said they had sufficient emergency savings and 79 percent said they were reducing consumer debt or were consumer debt-free.

The proportion of survey respondents who say they “are building equity in their home or other property” declined to 54 percent this year from 68 percent in 2010. The proportion of those homeowners who say they expect to pay off their mortgage debt before they retire fell from 78 percent in 2010 to 68 percent today.

One factor in this decline may be the decreasing percentages who said they have saving and spending plans. The proportion of those with a “savings plan with specific goals” slipped from 55 percent in 2010 to 54 percent in 2013 to 51 percent in 2014. The proportion of those with a spending plan which allows sufficient saving declined from 46 percent in 2010 to 43 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2014.

America Saves Week is an annual event where government, business, and nonprofit organizations at the local, state, and national levels work together to promote good savings behavior. America Saves, managed by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the American Savings Education Council (ASEC), managed by EBRI, coordinate this effort.

These organizations commissioned the survey, undertaken by ORC International, of a representative sample of 1,018 adult Americans using split-sample (landline and cell) phone interviews Jan. 30-Feb. 2. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


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