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Retirement and Health Care Costs Weighing Heavy on Americans' Minds

Nearly half of Americans living paycheck to paycheck

NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Anyone paying attention to the current presidential election knows that health care and retirement have been major topics in the campaign, and with good reason:  Americans are gravely concerned about these issues.  Nearly three-fourths of those Americans who are not retired agree that they worry about having enough money to do so (74%) and about being able to pay for health care costs in retirement (73%).  These fears appear to be tied at least in part to concerns regarding social security, with only two-in-five (41%) of non-retired Americans agreeing with the statement, "I have faith in social security being there when I retire."

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Additionally, seven in ten Americans – retired and not retired alike – agree that they worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs (71%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,307 adults surveyed online between August 13 and 20, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

For the nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) that are putting money toward savings, the top goals are rainy day funds for unexpected costs (62%) and retirement (53%). 

Not surprisingly, priorities change considerably in households with children; college savings show an exponential increase in importance among respondents with children in their households (44% among those with children in their households, 10% without), and this focus on college savings comes largely at the expense of rainy day (55% with, 65% without) and retirement (42% with, 57% without) savings.  

The results show glimmers of hope for two industries, as one-fourth (26%) of adults 18-35 indicate they are saving to purchase a car, and 27% of all Americans are putting money away for vacation.

Worried about the future while also living on the edge
Forty-seven percent (47%) of Americans agree that they are living paycheck to paycheck and thus cannot afford to put money in savings, thereby providing no relief to their future worries.

As might be expected, living paycheck to paycheck is more common among younger Americans (53% ages 18-47  vs. 28% ages 67+) and those with children in their households (55% with, 43% without).  And debt is not helping:  the majority of Americans (59%) would prioritize paying off debt if they came into unexpected funds.

So what?
"There is clear anxiety on the part of the American public regarding their day-to-day finances and those related to their futures," says David Krane, SVP Harris Interactive.  "Yet rather than creating products and services that could alleviate these concerns, bringing peace of mind to their customers, the financial services industry continues to focus its marketing on products and services related to spending and further debt accumulation. Companies that figure out how to take advantage of this missed opportunity are likely to be those that will rebound from the trust disadvantage that the industry now faces and grow their businesses."


TABLE 1a
AGREEMENT WITH STATEMENTS ABOUT FINANCIAL CONCERNS
"How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?"

Base:  Varies


AGREE [NET]

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

DISAGREE [NET]

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

2I worry about having enough money to retire

74

38

36

26

17

9

2I worry about being able to pay for my health care costs when I retire

73

37

37

27

16

10

1I worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs

71

34

37

29

19

10

2Planning for my retirement is a key priority to me

69

27

42

31

22

9

1I feel I need guidance on how to best invest my savings

52

12

39

48

30

18

2I live paycheck to paycheck, so I can't afford to put money in savings

47

22

25

53

28

25

2I have faith in social security being there when I retire

41

11

29

59

28

32

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding
1Base:  All U.S. adults
2Base:  U.S. adults who are not retired


TABLE 1b
AGREEMENT WITH STATEMENTS ABOUT FINANCIAL CONCERNS – BY GENERATION, GENDER & CHILDREN IN HH
"How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?"
Summary of "Agree" [NET] Ratings

Base:  Varies


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Males

Females

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

2I worry about having enough money to retire

74

68

84

76

56

71

77

74

74

2I worry about being able to pay for my health care costs when I retire

73

63

80

80

69

69

77

70

75

1I worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs

71

66

77

76

59

67

74

70

71

2Planning for my retirement is a key priority to me

69

60

68

78

66

71

67

66

70

1I feel I need guidance on how to best invest my savings

52

58

52

49

46

51

52

54

51

2I live paycheck to paycheck, so I can't afford to put money in savings

47

53

54

40

28

42

52

55

43

2I have faith in social security being there when I retire

41

34

33

47

70

43

38

35

43

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding
1Base:  All U.S. adults
2Base:  U.S. adults who are not retired


TABLE 2
CURRENTLY PUTTING MONEY TOWARD SAVINGS – BY GENERATION, GENDER & CHILDREN IN HH
"Are you currently putting any money toward any 'savings?'"

Base: All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Males

Females

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

63

59

61

68

63

65

62

60

65

No

37

41

39

32

37

35

38

40

35

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 3
CURRENT SAVINGS GOALS – BY GENERATION, GENDER & CHILDREN IN HH
"What are you currently saving for?"

Base: U.S. adults who are currently putting money toward savings


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Males

Females

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Rainy day fund / unexpected expenses

62

55

69

60

69

59

65

55

65

Retirement

53

29

48

77

45

54

52

42

57

Vacation

27

23

31

29

27

28

27

29

27

College [NET]

19

39

23

9

2

22

17

44

10

College costs for my kids

11

11

22

8

2

11

10

30

4

College costs for
myself

10

32

2

1

*

12

8

17

7

Car purchase

17

26

18

11

12

18

16

23

15

Home purchase

11

22

11

5

4

10

11

12

11

Marriage

3

8

2

*

1

3

3

3

3

Birth of a child

2

5

5

*

-

2

3

4

2

Other

14

19

19

9

15

12

17

14

15

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding
* signifies less than 1%
- signifies 0%


TABLE 4
$100,000 WINDFALL SPENDING – BY GENERATION, GENDER & CHILDREN IN HH
"If you won the lottery or received an inheritance of $100,000 today, what would you be most likely to do with that money?"

Base: All U.S. adults


Total

Generation

Gender

Children <18 in HH

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen Xers

(36-47)

Baby Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Males

Females

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Pay off any existing debt/loans

59

55

73

60

44

57

60

63

57

Save for a rainy day fund / unexpected expenses

42

36

37

45

51

37

46

34

45

Invest toward my retirement

33

20

32

46

32

37

30

23

37

Go on vacation

19

19

17

19

22

16

22

20

19

Donate to charity

18

14

12

19

32

19

17

16

19

Buy a car

17

22

14

14

16

18

16

20

16

Treat myself to something that I would not normally spend money on

15

17

12

12

21

16

14

9

16

Buy a house

13

19

17

10

4

10

16

19

11

Pay for my kids' college

10

8

18

10

4

8

12

24

5

Go back to school

6

15

5

2

*

7

6

10

5

Other

10

10

8

9

17

9

11

6

12

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding
* signifies less than 1%


Methodology
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 13 and 20, 2012 among 2,307 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #61, November 5, 2012
By: Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
[email protected]

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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