Poll Finds Few Retirement Planners

December 15, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Most Americans don’t have money set aside for unanticipated financial emergencies and are not adequately getting ready for their children’s college expenses and their own retirement, according to a new study.

A news release from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation said its National Financial Capability Survey found many respondents appeared not to have done any retirement planning.

When asked whether they have ever tried to figure out how much they need to save for retirement, only 42% of respondents who are not retired said they did. Even among those in the 45-59 age group, only 51% have attempted to calculate how much they need to save for their retirement. Among low income respondents, retirement planning was low or even nonexistent.

Among those who have done some retirement planning, 82% have retirement accounts, compared with only 40% of non-planners.

Also, the poll found only 41% of parents have set aside money for their children’s college education. More than one in five use high-cost, alternative borrowing methods, such as payday loans or pawn shops.

Finally, 46% of those surveyed correctly answered two basic questions about how interest rates and inflation work.

“These survey results highlight just how important it is to give people the information and resources they need to make sound financial decisions. The FINRA Foundation will use this important information to help focus its efforts to address the financial education needs of underserved Americans,” said FINRA Foundation Chairman Rick Ketchum, in the news release.

The poll of nearly 1,500 American adults was developed in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. The study is available here.