Paying Bills Edges Out Retirement Savings for Many

Most respondents to a survey say that if they had a budget, they would be better able to juggle bills and retirement savings at the same time.

Twenty-six percent of people say paying bills is their top financial priority, surpassing the 21% who say saving for retirement is their No. 1 goal, according to a survey by NeighborWorks America.

For those earning less than $40,000, 35% say that paying bills is their primary concern, and for those earning less than $20,000, this jumps to 49%.

Likewise, lower-income adults are less likely to say that saving for retirement is a top goal. Only 5% of those earning less than $20,000 a year and 7% of those earning less than $40,000 put retirement savings first. However, for those earning more than $100,000, 33% place retirement at the top of their financial goals.

Most people say that if they had a budget, they would be better able to juggle both bills and retirement savings, but only 39% have a formal budget. College graduates were more likely (52%) to have a formal budget compared with respondents with a high school diploma or less (29%) or some college (33%).

Forty-nine percent of people with income greater than $100,000 had a budget, compared with 31% of those earning $20,000 or less, 41% of those earning less than $40,000, 39% of those earning between $40,000 and $59,000 and 39% of people earning between $60,000 and $100,000.

Finn Partners conducted the telephone survey for NeighborWorks among 1,000 adults, March 10 through 14.