DC Deferral Amount What Participants Can Afford

Half of employees participating in a recent survey say they decided on their defined contribution plan contribution because it was the most they could afford.

A Principal Financial Group news release about its latest Principal Financial Well-Being Index for the second quarter of 2010 said 27% set their deferral because it was enough to qualify for their employer’s matching contribution while fewer than 10% said the amount was recommended by someone else including their adviser or employer.  

Meanwhile, Americans have apparently learned some important personal finance lessons from the recession, Principal found.  

Some 61% of workers and 55% of retirees have trimmed their spending in the past two months because of the still uncertain economy. Some 79% of workers and 84% of retirees say they will keep those spending patterns regardless of which way the economy moves in coming months.  

The number of Americans who have cut back on spending, increased savings and paid down debt to rebuild their financial well-being since the recession began in 2008 has continued to increase, according to the press release.   Sixty-nine percent of workers spent less in the second quarter compared to 62% in the first quarter; 51% paid down debt up from 45% in the first quarter; and 29% increased savings in an emergency fund compared to 22%.  

“It appears a real sea change is taking place in America as consumers work hard to make not only positive but permanent changes in their financial behavior,” said Luke Vandermillen, vice president of retirement and investor services at the Principal Financial Group, in the news release. “It’s encouraging to see signs that Americans learned from the recession and are shifting their focus away from the short-term toward long-term financial health.”  

As they continue to rebuild and focus on financial well-being, Americans are also giving themselves financial check-ups. Over half of both workers (58%) and retirees (56%) have monitored their spending levels in the past year due to the economy and over a quarter of workers (28%) and a third of retirees (35%) have re-evaluated their investments.