Workers who utilize the help of a financial advisor are, on average, more confident about meeting their retirement goals than those who plan on their own, according to a new survey.

According to the Principal Financial Well-Being Index for the 3rd quarter, over 40% of workers who employ a financial advisor say they believe they're saving enough money to live comfortably in retirement. But for workers without an advisor, that confidence rating shrinks to just over 20%, the index says.

Workers also split on how much money they feel they need to put away now in order to feel comfortable during retirement. An estimated 22% of workers say they need to save from 1% to 8% of their pay-including any employer match. But over 55% of workers queried think they'll need to save 9% or more of their pay.

The survey also found that the number of Americans concerned about their long-term financial future-both those retired and those still working-rose dramatically in the quarter. An estimated 67% of retirees say they're worried compared to only 43% in the second quarter.

Among those still actively employed, concern about their financial future rose to 68% of those surveyed compared to 63% last quarter.

Short-term concerns also grew in the third quarter, with 28% of workers and 36% of retirees reporting they're pessimistic about the economic outlook for the rest of 2011, up from 20% of workers and 21% of retirees last quarter. Looking beyond 2011, 58% of retirees and 46% of workers say the economy will worsen in 2012.

The index also finds that among workers and retirees who have children that are not already out of school, 39% of workers and 26% of retirees are saving for their children's college education. Seventy-four percent of workers and 59% of retirees report that the economy has made it more difficult to save for their children's future college education.

Nearly three quarters of retirees (72%) who are saving for their children's college education are satisfied with their level of savings, while only 30% of workers who are saving are satisfied.
For workers, the top two reasons given to why they're not saving for their children's college education are: finances (53%); the expectation their children will pay via student loans (26%) and expected scholarships (25%).

The survey also found that consumers that take advantage of online deals and use coupons influence how much they spend. Roughly 30% of workers report making purchases from daily discount Web sites such as Groupon or Living Social in the past year.

The top reasons workers say they purchase online are: Getting a good deal (75%); purchasing items they would buy anyway at a discounted price (58%); and trying out new items and services at a discount (43%).

Four out of five workers (80%) reported that they regularly clip out savings coupons to receive discounts on items that include food, personal care products and cleaning products.

-Jim McConville