Almost three-quarters of preretiree workers (74%) polled say they worry about having enough money to retire. Seven in 10 of this group (69%) say that planning for retirement is a key priority to them. One thing these preretiree workers are not counting on, for post-retirement income, is Social Security. Only 35% of respondents say they have faith that they will receive Social Security benefits when they retire. This figure decreases to 27% for Millennials and 30% for Generation X.
Health care costs also come into play when Americans think about saving for retirement. Two-thirds (67%) say they worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs. Seventy percent of preretiree workers worry about being able to pay for their health care costs when they retire.
The poll also finds that Americans are having trouble for a number of reasons. While 69% of Americans say they are currently putting money toward some form of savings, almost half of preretiree workers (46%) say they live paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to put money in savings. Among those who are saving, the top goals are rainy day funds for unexpected expenses (65%) and retirement (52%), though some are saving for more leisurely reasons such as a vacation (31%).
Saving priorities change considerably by age, according the poll results. 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 than the three older generations—Silent Generation, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers—to be saving money for a car purchase (24% versus 11%, 10% and 15%, respectively) and a home purchase (24% versus 7%, 4% and 3%).
When it comes to hypothetical windfalls, such as winning the lottery or being left money by a distant relative, poll respondents are quite practical. If $100,000 came their way, almost three in five Americans (57%) would pay off an existing debt or loan, 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%). Others 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%), or go back to school (6%).
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States, between May 14 and 19, among 2,286 adults (aged 18 and over). Data tables for the poll can be found here.