Workers Cut Back Retirement Savings to Make Ends Meet

August 11, 2011 ( - Some workers are making ends meet by foregoing long-term savings, according to a new CareerBuilder survey.

More than one-in-five (21%) workers say they have reduced their 401(k) contributions and/or personal savings in the last year to get by.  Others aren’t contributing to long-term savings at all, as one-third (34%) state that they do not participate in any programs such as 401(k), IRAs or retirement plans.   

Nearly two-in-ten workers making six figures have reduced their contributions to savings and 401(k) programs each month (17%), and 9% don’t participate in a 401(k) program or other personal savings plan.  

CareerBuilder’s survey shows the financial situation for some households is improving. Forty-two percent of workers say they usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, an improvement from 43% in 2010 and in line with levels seen back in 2007. The number of workers who have missed a bill payment has decreased year-over-year; one-in-five (20%) say they have missed payments on bills in the last year, slightly improved from 22% at this time last year.   

Workers making six figures are seeing improvements as well.  Fourteen percent of workers making six figures say they live paycheck to paycheck, down from 17% in 2010. Less than one-in-ten (6%) reported they can’t make ends meet every month, an improvement from 8% last year.  

Female workers continue to struggle more with their personal finances than their male counterparts. Forty-six percent of female workers and 38% of male workers say they live paycheck to paycheck. Nearly one quarter (24%) of female workers say they have missed a bill payment over the last 12 months, higher than male workers at 17%.    

While being fiscally responsible may mean having to do without, workers said they would absolutely not give up the following regardless of their financial concerns: 

  • Internet connection – 56%, 
  • Driving – 46%, 
  • Mobile phone – 42%, 
  • Cable TV – 27%, and  
  • Going out to eat – 11%. 


The nationwide survey of more than 5,200 workers by CareerBuilder was conducted from May 18 to June 3, 2011.