A new report that culled data from more than 1,500 households showed that many are living paycheck to paycheck and even less do not have enough to retire on by the age of 65.
According to the 60-page report from the Consumer Federation of America and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., 38% said they live paycheck to paycheck, while less than one third (30%) indicated they felt comfortable financially and only about one third (34%) think they can afford to retire by age 65.
The researchers said they compared the data to the environment in 1997 when unemployment was lower and consumers were more optimistic.
That year, 31% said they lived paycheck to paycheck. The percentage who indicated they felt comfortable financially was 38% in 1997. Half (50%) said they thought they could retire by age 65 in 1997.
Conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, the survey showed that those who have prepared a personal financial plan felt more confident and reported more success managing money, savings and investments than those who have not.
By a margin of 50% to 32%, and for all but the lowest income bracket (under $25,000) where few have a comprehensive plan, planners were more likely to feel they are on pace to meet all of their financial goals, such as saving for retirement or for emergencies.
For those in these two highest income brackets, planners reported saving a higher percentage of income and having built greater wealth than non-planners.
Planners with incomes $50,000-$99,999 were more likely to report they save 10% or more of their income (57% vs. 39%) and to have accumulated at least $100,000 in investments (37% vs. 19%).
For those in the two lowest income brackets, planners with credit cards reported being much more likely to pay credit card bills in full. That is true both for those in the $25,000-$49,999 income bracket – 46% for planners and 26% for non-planners – and for those with incomes under $25,000 – 41% for planners and 16% for non-planners, according to the data.