A Rising Tide Benefits Advisers

With only a little more than a third of the working population able to live comfortably while saving for retirement, it’s clear advisers would benefit from a strengthening of the savings culture.

Only 37% of Americans report they can live comfortably and save an adequate amount for retirement or other needs, according to the Allstate and National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll findings.

Nearly half (46%) say they can get by every month but find it difficult to save and invest, whether for retirement or other purposes. Fifteen percent find it hard to make ends meet every month.

Nearly one-third (32%) of survey respondents report that in the past 12 months, they have withdrawn money from savings or pension funds to make ends meet, and 30% reduced contributions to a 401(k) or other pension or retirement fund.

Using a scale of zero to ten, where zero means the goal is not at all achievable and 10 means it is very achievable, “retiring comfortably in the way and at the time you expect” received a mean 5.48 ranking, down from 5.9 in 2011.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) say their own financial wellbeing depends more on their own actions like working hard, doing a good job, leading a healthy life and saving and investing carefully, while nearly one-third (32%) say it depends more on events mostly out of their control, like what happens in the economy, decisions by their employer, an unexpected illness, and what happens in the stock market.

More than half (54%) say their current financial situation is either fair or poor, while 45% say it is good or excellent. Forty-two percent indicate their personal financial situation will improve, and 46% believe it will become worse.

When asked about Social Security and Medicare, 16% say the government should try to restrain the costs of these programs and avoid raising taxes to pay for them, even if it means reducing the benefits promised to future retirees. However, 38% say the government should try to make these programs financially sustainable over the long run, both by making some reductions in benefits promised to future retirees and raising some taxes to fund the programs; and 37% say the government should spend whatever it costs to ensure that future retirees receive all the benefits they have been promised, even if that means increasing taxes.

The poll included responses from a national sample of 1,000 American adults ages 18 and older. More findings can be found at http://heartlandmonitor.com/.