Long-Term Savings Takes a Back Seat During 2009

Financial education provider Financial Finesse reports that employees focused more on short-term financial concerns in 2009 than on long-term savings.
An analysis of calls to the company’s helpline and online data from employees from more than 300 employers shows that retirement-planning calls remained unchanged from Q4 2008 to Q4 2009, at 8% of total calls.

There was a decline in most other proactive financial planning calls, as consumers focused instead on managing their day-to-day finances in response to the crisis. Only 4% of calls in Q4 2009 concerned investing and 3% education planning, while 35% of calls were about debt issues and 34% regarded budgeting and saving.

Overall, online users ranked money management as their top financial priority, followed by retirement planning and debt management. However, retirement planning ranked first by users ages 45 and older and by men.

Debt calls were at their lowest point in Q4 2009, having decreased from 44% of calls in Q1, indicating that employees’ financial situations had stopped getting worse, Financial Finesse said.

Employees remain seriously concerned about their finances, with 96% reporting feeling stressed about their finances and 32% indicating their stress levels are “high or overwhelming.” But, as 2009 progressed, an increasing number of employees reported that they were paying off their credit card debt and setting up an emergency savings account.

Men were significantly more likely than women to say they had a handle on their cash flow each month (73% vs. 53%). However, 85% of each gender indicated they are contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.