Retirement planning is an important issue, but according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study many workers remain more concerned about making ends meet.
Forty-nine percent of those survey said they find it difficult to meet their household expenses on time, up from 43% a year earlier. Also, 24% of employees surveyed report using credit cards to buy monthly necessities because they can’t afford them otherwise, representing a nine percentage-point increase from 2010.
The “PwC Financial Wellness Survey” examined the views of 1,610 working adults making at least $30,000 annually.
“It puts cash flow planning at the center stage relative to current and future planning,” Kent Allison, a partner in PwC’s financial education practice said in a phone call. “Being too long-term focused can interfere with retirement planning.”
If a client reports having to pay for necessities with credit cards, it suggests he or she might need to cut back on contributions to his or her retirement plan. Those are some of the fundamentals of financial planning, Allison said.
The issue was consistent across all wage categories, Allison said, noting results for respondents making more than $100,000 a year. In that group, 36% of respondents said they found it difficult to meet their household expenses on time every month. Also, 34% of people in this group used credit cards for monthly expenses, because they could not afford to do so otherwise. This result was significantly higher than the 24% of population overall who said the same.
It suggests that financial planners will probably have to help American workers make tough lifestyle decisions. Should they keep the big house or sell it and rent or buy a smaller property? Will it be public or private school for the kids? Financial planners have to be able to take a look at the whole picture when it comes to managing their clients’ finances, Allison said.
When it comes to retirement saving and planning, the picture was mixed, and suggested that Americans still need professional guidance. PwC found that 65% of respondents are saving for retirement, but only 33% are confident that they will be able to retire when they want to. Also, 32% of respondents believe they’ll need to use their retirement plans to pay for expenses other than retirement, such as education, paying for a house, etc. Again, the higher-earning group felt this more accutely, as 44% of them said they might have to use retirement funds to pay for other expenses.
Forty-six percent said they are planning to retire later than they previously planned. Of those who said they might delay retirement, 34% said they had not saved enough, and 18% said their retirement investments had declined in value.
Thirty-five percent said they were not actively saving for retirement. 45% said competing financial issues was the main cause. Also, 38% of respondents said they were saving less than last year, and of that group, 37% said they had too many other expenses to juggle.
For those Americans who are managing to put away a retirement nest egg, 48% said they were uncomfortable choosing investments on their own. That is generally consistent with the 52% who said the same in the 2010 study.
“The downturn made it even more uncomfortable,” Allison said. He added that that group might have to save more to compensate for not being in the market during the rally.