Is America prepared to retire?


Two-thirds of us have no financial plan

Z. Stan Smith, CFP



Only 48 percent of Americans say they think they are saving enough. And 30 percent feel that they are not even slightly confident that they are saving enough for retirement. That finding comes from the 2015 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. (The survey collected data from 2,017 U.S. adults.)

Only 40 percent of us keep a regular budget. If you are one of those two out of five Americans, you’re on the right track. While this percentage is on par with findings going back to 2007, the study also finds that only 29 percent of Americans are saving any part of their annual income towards retirement.

Relatively few seek the help of a financial professional. When asked “Considering what I already know about personal finance, I could still benefit from some advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional,” 75 percent of respondents agreed with the statement. Yet only 12 percent indicated that they would seek out the help of some sort of financial professional if they had “financial problems related to debt.”

While it isn’t surprising to think that 25 percent of respondents would turn to friends and family, it may be alarming to learn that 18 percent would choose to turn to no one at all.

Why don’t more people seek help? After all, Americans of all incomes and savings levels certainly are free to set financial goals.

They may feel embarrassed about speaking to a stranger about personal financial issues. It may also be the case that they feel that they don’t make enough money to speak to a professional, that a financial professional is something that millionaires and billionaires have, not the average American worker.

Another possibility is that they feel that they have a good handle on their financial future; they have a budget and stick to it, they save in an IRA (like a quarter of Americans), or a 401(k) (nearly three out of ten Americans), and many use other investments (30 percent, according to the survey). But that 75 percent admission above indicates that a vast majority of Americans are not as confident.

Defined goals lead to definite plans. If you set financial objectives and plan for them, you vault ahead of most Americans – at least according to these findings. A written financial plan does not imply or guarantee wealth, of course; nor does it ensure that you will reach your goals. Yet that financial plan does give you an understanding of the distance between your current financial situation (where you are) and where you want to be.

How much planning have you done? Retiring without a financial plan is an enormous risk; retiring with a financial plan that hasn’t been reviewed in several years is also chancy. A relationship with a certified financial planner can help to bring you up to date about what you need to do, and provide you with more clarity and confidence when it comes to the financial future.

Z. Stan Smith, CFP, is a financial planner with the NorthSide Group 401 S. Main Mount Airy. He can be reached at 336-783-9100. For more information, visit www.northsidegroup.com.

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Two-thirds of us have no financial plan

Z. Stan Smith, CFP

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