Fifty-two percent of Americans say they aren’t saving adequately, 17% aren’t saving anything at all, and 79% think Americans aren’t saving adequately, a survey by the Consumer Federation of America and Wachovia of 2,000 adults found. Among various demographic groups, 86% those with a college education said they don’t think Americans are saving adequately.

However, 68% said they have adequate savings for such an emergency as a car repair or dental treatment, 58% said they have enough put away to pay for household expenses for a few months, should they lose their job, and 53% said they are saving adequately for retirement. But when both short- and long-term financial needs are accounted for, only 44% said they are saving adequately.

Those who earn $75,000 or more a year are about twice as likely as those earning less than $25,000 a year to say they have saved adequately for all of the above.

Seventy-five percent of the high-income group is also the most likely to believe they can accumulate $1 million during their lifetime, whereas only 1% of those earning less than $35,000 think so and only 2% of those earning between $35,000 and $50,000 think it’s a possibility.

Among the 1,000 in the survey who said they are not saving adequately or could not afford to save, 72% said that both large, regular and unexpected expenses are precluding them from doing so, followed by 66% citing their incomes, 60% consumer debt and 37% impulse spending.

Those aged 18 to 24 years old were the most likely, 62% versus 52% for all Americans, to say they are not saving adequately, with 53% of them saying they are susceptible to impulse spending, versus 37% of all Americans.

“Wachovia is committed to increasing the number of Americans who are saving,” said Kathryn Black, senior vice president and savings director at Wachovia. “We want to provide savings advice, education and encouragement to consumers.”

“This survey is far and away the most extensive we’ve undertaken and provides new insights into not only how Americans save but why they do or don’t,” said CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck. “Americans are pessimistic about how other Americans are saving and how they will save in the future. In part, this pessimism probably reflects widespread press coverage about the country’s zero or near-zero personal savings rate.”

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