Vacation Planning Trumps Retirement Preparations

June 23, 2014 ( - Edward Jones surveyed adults on the planning activities they spend the most time on: retirement, vacation, higher education or making a big purchase like a new home or a car.

Nearly one-third, 28%, said they spend the most time thinking about a vacation, while 25% said they spend the most time planning for retirement, and 22% said they think about the cost of higher education.

However, as people get older, they think more about retirement, as the survey found that 31% of those ages 35 to 44 cited this goal. This jumped to 37% among survey respondents ages 45 to 54 and 40% among those between the ages of 55 to 64.

“Frankly, we’re not surprised people spend more time thinking about vacations instead of tackling larger challenges, such as saving for retirement or higher education, particularly at this time of year,” says Scott Thoma, a retirement strategist for Edward Jones. “All too often, people don’t prioritize planning and investing for the long term because it’s 20 to 30 years away, but this is a big mistake. As the number of years to retirement decreases, so do the balance and returns on an investment account. Saving just a little over a long period of time can be much more beneficial than trying to save more at the last minute.”

The survey also found that parents think more about the costs of higher education; those with children spend more time thinking about higher education costs (28%) as opposed to planning for retirement (19%).

“Parents face a major challenge when it comes to navigating the balance between saving for retirement and helping their children with the rising rate of tuition,” Thoma says. “It is important to prioritize your goals and view them together rather than delaying saving for one goal over another. By understanding how your goals interact, you can work to make sure you don’t inadvertently derail one when saving for another.”

The survey, based on 1,006 adults, also indicated that as people age, their focus on vacation planning increases, while their interest in saving for a major purchase decreases. A quarter, 25%, of those 18 to 34 concentrate the most on vacation  planning, but this jumps to 40% among those 35% among those 65 or older. Among those 18 to 34, 27% prioritize a major purchase, compared with 11% among those 35 to 44.