Among working Americans making at least $30,000 a year, paying bills and reducing debt are greater concerns than saving for retirement, a “Financial Wellness” survey of 1,610 adults by PwC found.
Twenty-five percent are worried about not having money saved for an emergency, 20% are concerned about not being able to pay monthly expenses, and 18% are worried they won’t be able to retire when they want. These concerns are followed by not being able to keep up with debt (13%) and being laid off from work (11%).
Nearly half, 49%, say it is difficult to meet their household expenses on time, up from 43% last year. Twenty-four percent are using credit cards to buy monthly necessities because they couldn’t afford them otherwise, up from 15% in 2010. Even among those earning $100,000 or more annually, 34% are using credit cards to buy monthly necessities.
Fifty percent carry balances on their credit cards, in line with the 51% who had balances in 2010, and 42% find it difficult to make minimum payments, up from 28% in 2010.
Thus, 38% are saving less for retirement than last year, and 35% are not saving for retirement at all. The main reason they are either saving less or not saving is having too many other expenses (37% of those saving less and 45% of those not saving) or having a lower income than last year (28% of those saving less and 15% of those not saving).
PwC said that given these financial strains, it is not surprising that 61% say handling their personal finances is stressful, and 56% say their financial stress level has increased in the past 12 months.
“The results clearly show that retirement is not the most pressing financial concern weighing on employees’ minds,” said Kent Allison, a partner with the financial education practice at PwC. “While it’s important that employees put money aside for retirement, they may be hesitant to save for the future if it will exacerbate existing debt and cash flow problems in the near-term.”
Only 33% of employees think they will be able to retire when they want to, and 46% are planning to retire later than they had planned. Further, 32% are planning to use their retirement plans to pay for expenses other than retirement, such as a home purchase or sending a child through college.