Sunday, February 26, 2012

Goals Tending

The bad news is that times are still tough for many Americans—and surveys suggest that even those with jobs are nervous about their prospects for the future. The good news is that the current level of economic uncertainty seems to have brought about—at least for some—a heightened awareness of the need to set money aside for a rainy day, perhaps even those rainy days in retirement.

That said, the weak economy has certainly constrained the ability of many to save. In fact, a recent national survey found that an increasing number of Americans are having difficulty saving to meet goals ranging from meeting emergencies to affording retirement. The survey—released as part of America Saves Week(1)—noted that over the past three years, there has been a decline in the number of people who spend less than their income and save the difference, are building home equity, have adequate emergency savings, and think they are saving enough for retirement.

However, the survey also revealed that having a savings plan has beneficial financial effects, even for lower-income families. Consider that 85% of those who had a savings plan spent less than their income, (86% of this group felt they had sufficient emergency savings), and 3 in 4 said they were saving enough for retirement.

On the other hand, just 44% of those without a savings plan claimed to be spending less than their income, while 43% said they had sufficient emergency savings. Fewer than 1 in 4 of those with no savings plan said they were saving enough for retirement.

And yet, while those with a plan for savings had significantly better savings behaviors, fewer than half of survey respondents said they had “a savings plan with specific goals.”

It is admittedly simplistic to chasten those truly unable to save because of challenging economic circumstances. On the other hand, there are surely some today better able to weather those economic storms because they chose to set money aside during less tumultuous times.

That first step on that path, and it’s a critical one, is to Choose to Save.® As America Saves Week reminds us—and those trying to help others save—there’s no better time to start on that path to Save For Your Future® than today.

- Nevin E. Adams, JD

Note: Organizations interested in building/reinforcing a workplace savings campaign can find free resources—and a handy schedule of events around which to construct a program—here courtesy of the American Savings Education Council (ASEC).


(1) America Saves Week is an annual event where hundreds of national and local organizations promote good savings behavior and individuals are encouraged to assess their own saving status. America Saves Week is managed by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the American Savings Education Council (ASEC). ASEC is a program of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), which commissioned the survey, undertaken by Opinion Research Corp. You can find out more about America Saves Week here.

(2) Choose to Save® is sponsored by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute Education and Research Fund (EBRI-ERF) and one of its programs, the American Savings Education Council (ASEC). The website and materials development have been underwritten through generous grants and additional support from EBRI members and ASEC Partner institutions.

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