Americans' resolve for cutting costs has declined since last January, with many caught in a financial tug-of-war between their retirement savings goals and their day-to-day living expenses, according to a new study.
While more than 60 percent of Americans recommend saving between 6 and 19 percent of their income annually for retirement, less than a third actually do, according to the report, released today by Scottrade. At the same time, Americans reported that they spend 21 percent of their monthly income on mortgage and non-mortgage debt.
Conducted in June, the study is a follow-up to Scottrade's sixth annual "American Retirement Study," published in January. Both surveys polled Americans about their perspectives on retirement and savings.
In both surveys, nearly all the respondents said they were trying to save more money -- 93 percent said so in January and 92 percent in June -- but few in the latter survey said they had been sticking to their efforts. Sixty-nine percent of respondents in January reported they were spending less, but only 64 percent of those queried in June did. In January, 65 percent of respondents said they were comparison shopping, while only 61 percent said the same thing in June. In addition, 67 percent of respondents in January said they used discount coupons for purchases, while only 61 percent of respondents in June said they were using them.
While some Americans have deviated from their penny-pinching behaviors, 49 percent of the June respondents said they don't have any financial regrets about the first six months of the year. Of those who did, the leading response by 37 percent of that group was "not saving enough money."
Despite their saving struggles, 65 percent of those surveyed in June reported managing their investments without the help of a broker or professional financial advisor. Of those, nearly half rated their confidence in their ability to plan for retirement as "good" or "very good."
The survey was commissioned by Scottrade and conducted online by Synovate, which spoke with 1,000 respondents from June 7 to 11.--Jim McConville