More Than Half Of U.S. Households Saving
Survey Part Of America Saves Week
A national survey conducted earlier this month found that about half of all U.S. households report adequate savings progress, according to the American Savings Education Council.
Released Monday to kick off the start of America Saves Week, 53 percent of people surveyed said that they save at least 5 percent of their income, while only 57 percent of those not retired said they are saving enough for a retirement with a "desirable standard of living".
"The long-term goal of the week is to persuade thousands of organizations to encourage millions of Americans to assess their savings progress and take action to advance this progress," said Dallas Salisbury, chairman of ASEC and president of the Employee Benefits Research Institute. "The new America Saves Week website offers organizations suggestions for promoting saving and provides individuals tools for measuring and advancing their savings progress."
The national survey was commissioned by ASEC and America Saves and carried out by Opinion Research Corporation, which interviewed a representative sample of more than 1,000 adult Americans during the week of February 8.
The survey is being released at a press conference today during the second annual America Saves Week, in which more than 80 major governmental, nonprofit, and industry organizations are participating. The survey includes questions that make up a "savings checklist" found on the new America Saves Week website (americasavesweek.org), which was developed jointly by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council (ASEC).
Nearly three-quarters of Americans report that they "spend less than their income and save the difference." Twenty-eight percent said that they save at least 10 percent of their income. Experts urge people to save at least that much of their income.
More than two-thirds report that they "have sufficient emergency savings to pay for unexpected expenses like car repairs or a doctor visit."
However, 57 percent said they are "saving enough for a retirement in which you will have a desirable standard of living." A reason for inadequate retirement savings is the failure or inability to "save for retirement at work through a 401(k) or other contributory plan," which only 55 percent of the non-retired report having.
Self-reported savings habits also help account for inadequate saving progress.
- Only 62 percent of Americans have a "savings plan with specific goals."
- Only 49 percent have a "spending plan that allows you to save enough money to achieve the goals of your saving plan."
- Only 42 percent "save automatically through regular preauthorized transfers from checking to saving or investments"
- Only 41 percent "save a portion of tax refunds, gifts, bonuses, or other financial windfalls."
Relatively few Americans, however, report serious debt problems. Twenty-one percent said their consumer debt is "growing" or "remains at the same level." More than three-quarters with mortgage loans said they "will pay off all mortgage debt before retirement."
"Hard data about savings behavior suggest that responses to several questions were buoyed by the personal optimism of respondents," said Stephen Brobeck, Consumer Federation of America executive director.
Past research has revealed that age, gender, ethnicity, and education help explain differences in savings habits and progress. But this survey strongly suggests that income is a much greater influence on savings than are these other four factors.
The survey data reveal that a large majority of households with incomes of at least $75,000, about half of those with incomes between $35,000 and $75,000, and a small minority of those with incomes below $35,000 are adequate savers.
- Among all households in 2005, 27 percent were high-income, 33 percent were middle-income, and 30 percent were low-income (incomes below $35,000).
- 81 percent of the high-income group, but only 34 percent of the low-income group, report saving at least 5 percent of their income.
- 90 percent of the high-income group, but only 48 percent of the low-income group, report adequate emergency savings.
- Among those who are not retired, 85 percent of the high-income group, but only 28% of the low-income group, say they are saving adequately for retirement.
- Among this non-retired population, 77 percent of the high-income group, but only 24% of the low-income group, report participating in a retirement plan at work.
- 85 percent of the high-income group, but only 36 percent of the low-income group, report having a savings plan.
- 72 percent of the high-income group, but only 29 percent of the low-income group, report having a spending plan.
Members of the high-income group are much more likely than those in the low-income group to know their net worth, save automatically through checking transfers, and save financial windfalls.
"A low income certainly makes it difficult to build adequate retirement savings but does not prevent developing saving and spending plans," said Brobeck. "And we know from earlier research that, regardless of income level, having a financial plan increases saving and financial stability."
Primary Press Contact
The Consumer Federation of America
Attn: America Saves Campaign
1620 Eye St NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
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