While retirement is still the No. 1 goal of a majority of investors, its importance has fallen slightly since 2003, while other financial concerns have risen in importance. This is according to a survey released by Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

Seventy-six percent say retirement is a goal, down from 85% three years ago. At the same time, 38% say paying down debt is important, up from 25%; 34% cite saving for unexpected expenses, up from 27%; 28% point to a child's education, up from 22%; and 25% say they are preparing for a major purchase or expenditure sometime in the future, up from 20%.

"The results of the Mercer Workplace Survey indicate that the participant is more conflicted than ever about saving for tomorrow or paying bills today," said Beth Pasciucco, director of marketing, communications and education at Mercer.

Just under half of the participants said they are confident they will be ready for retirement.

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