More Say Paying Bills Edges Out Retirement Savings

Retirement savings will generally become more difficult as income declines, but there are solutions to promote regular savings at all income levels.

Twenty-six percent of people say paying bills is their top financial priority, surpassing the 21% who say saving for retirement is their No. 1 goal, according to a survey by NeighborWorks America.

For those earning less than $40,000, 35% say that paying bills is their primary concern, and for those earning less than $20,000, this jumps to 49%.

Likewise, lower-income adults are less likely to say that saving for retirement is a top goal. Only 5% of those earning less than $20,000 a year and 7% of those earning less than $40,000 put retirement savings first. However, for those earning more than $100,000, 33% place retirement at the top of their financial goals.

Most people say that if they had a budget, they would be better able to juggle bills and retirement savings at the same time, but only 39% have a formal budget. College graduates were more likely (52%) to have a formal budget compared with respondents with a high school diploma or less (29%) or some college (33%).

Forty-nine percent of people with income greater than $100,000 had a budget, compared with 31% of those earning $20,000 or less, 41% of those earning less than $40,000, 39% of those earning between $40,000 and $59,000 and 39% of people earning between $60,000 and $100,000.

Finn Partners conducted the telephone survey for NeighborWorks among 1,000 adults March 10-14.