Three-Quarters of Americans Worry About Having Enough Money to Retire

New York , N.Y. – July 10, 2014 – It’s something that keeps many Americans up at night, tossing and turning, worrying about whether they have enough money to do a myriad of things – retire, meet unexpected costs, and so forth. Three-quarters of U.S. adults who are not retired yet (74%) say they worry about having enough money to retire and seven in ten of this group (69%) say planning for retirement is a key priority to them. One thing those not retired are not planning for is social security – just about one-third (35%) say they have faith in social security being there when they retire. This drops to one-quarter of Millennials (27%) and three in ten Gen Xers (30%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,286 adults surveyed online between May 14 and 19, 2014.

Health care is another worry for Americans. Two-thirds (67%) say they worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs. Among those who are not yet retired, seven in ten (70%) worry about being able to pay for their health care costs when they retire.

Saving… or rather, trying to save money

Almost seven in ten Americans (69%) say they are currently putting money toward any savings. One reason for those who aren’t may be that almost half of unretired U.S. adults (46%) say they live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to put money in savings. Among those saving, the top goals are rainy day funds for unexpected costs (65%) and retirement (52%). But, those saving are also doing so for some fun reasons as three in ten (31%) are saving for a vacation.

Not surprisingly, priorities change considerably by age; just two in five Millennials (39%) are saving for retirement, while over three in five Gen Xers and Baby Boomers (62%) say they are. Millennials are also more likely then the three older generations to be saving money for a car purchase (24% vs. 11%, 10%, and 15%) and a home purchase (24% vs. 7%, 4%, and 3%).

A windfall comes their way, and…

It’s something we all dream about – winning the lottery or having the distant relative you never knew about leave you money. But, if $100,000 came their way, what would Americans be mostly likely to do with it? Almost three in five (57%) would pay off an existing debt and/or loans while two in five (42%) would put money into a rainy day fund and save for unexpected expenses. One-third (33%) of Americans would invest toward their retirement while over one in five would go on vacation (23%) or buy a car (21%). Smaller numbers of U.S. adults would treat themselves to something they would not normally spend money on (16%), donate to charity (16%), buy a house (15%), pay for their kids’ college (10%) and go back to school (6%).

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TABLE 1a

AGREEMENT WITH STATEMENTS ABOUT FINANCIAL CONCERNS

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Base: Varies

AGREE [NET]

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

DISAGREE [NET]

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

2 I worry about having enough money to retire

74

36

37

26

17

9

2 I worry about being able to pay for my health care costs when I retire

70

30

40

30

19

11

2 Planning for my retirement is a key priority to me

69

27

42

31

21

10

1 I worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs

67

29

38

33

19

13

1 I feel I need guidance on how to best invest my savings

47

14

33

53

27

25

2 I live paycheck to paycheck, so I can’t afford to put money in savings

46

20

27

54

26

28

2 I have faith in social security being there when I retire

35

9

27

65

28

38

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding; 1Base: All U.S. adults; 2Base: U.S. adults who are not retired

TABLE 1b

AGREEMENT WITH STATEMENTS ABOUT FINANCIAL CONCERNS – BY GENERATION

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Summary of Agree [NET] Ratings

Base: Varies

Total

2012

Total

2014

Generation

Millennials

(18-36)

Gen Xers

(37-48)

Baby Boomers

(49-67)

Matures

(68+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

2 I worry about having enough money to retire

74

74

72

77

75

51

2 I worry about being able to pay for my health care costs when I retire

73

70

69

72

72

47

2 Planning for my retirement is a key priority to me

69

69

63

70

76

61

1 I worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs

71

67

70

69

68

54

1 I feel I need guidance on how to best invest my savings

52

47

60

46

41

36

2 I live paycheck to paycheck, so I can’t afford to put money in savings

47

46

48

48

43

29

2 I have faith in social security being there when I retire

41

35

27

30

46

86

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding; 1Base: All U.S. adults; 2Base: U.S. adults who are not retired


TABLE 2

CURRENTLY PUTTING MONEY TOWARD SAVINGS – BY GENERATION, GENDER & CHILDREN IN HH

Are you currently putting any money toward any ‘savings?’

Base: All U.S. adults

Total

2012

Total

2014

%

%

Yes

63

69

No

37

31

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 3

CURRENT SAVINGS GOALS – BY GENERATION, GENDER & CHILDREN IN HH

What are you currently saving for?

Base: U.S. adults who are currently putting money toward savings

Total

2012

Total

2014

Generation

Millennials

(18-36)

Gen Xers

(37-48)

Baby Boomers

(49-67)

Matures

(68+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

Rainy day fund / unexpected expenses

62

65

63

67

63

74

Retirement

53

52

39

62

62

40

Vacation

27

31

32

31

31

30

College [NET]

19

20

38

29

5

1

College costs for my kids

11

14

18

28

5

College costs for myself

10

8

21

1

1

1

Car purchase

17

15

24

11

10

15

Home purchase

11

11

24

7

4

3

Marriage

3

4

10

2

1

Birth of a child

2

4

11

Other

14

14

14

12

14

12

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

signifies less than 0.5%

– signifies 0%


TABLE 4

$100,000 WINDFALL SPENDING – BY GENERATION, GENDER & CHILDREN IN HH

If you won the lottery or received an inheritance of $100,000 today, what would you be most likely to do with that money?

Base: All U.S. adults

Total

2012

Total

2014

Generation

Millennials

(18-36)

Gen Xers

(37-48)

Baby Boomers

(49-67)

Matures

(68+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

Pay off any existing debt/loans

59

57

58

62

58

39

Save for a rainy day fund / unexpected expenses

42

42

43

34

40

55

Invest toward my retirement

33

33

26

35

40

23

Go on vacation

19

23

20

23

25

24

Buy a car

17

21

25

19

18

18

Treat myself to something that I would not normally spend money on

15

16

14

14

17

25

Donate to charity

18

16

13

11

20

24

Buy a house

13

15

27

13

8

8

Pay for my kids’ college

10

10

8

18

7

6

Go back to school

6

6

14

4

2

1

Other

10

9

9

6

7

17

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

signifies less than 1%

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 14 and 19, 2014 among 2,286 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

The Harris Poll® #65, July 10, 2014

By Regina A. Corso, VP, Harris Poll and Public Relations Research