Poll: Big Worries About $avings

GDP : Hand with money over workers and capitol building, gross domestic product AP / CBS

According to the latest CBS News/New York Times Poll, Americans were not able to save much of their income over the past year, and most of them are concerned about being able to afford major expenses such as healthcare and retirement.

19% say they were able to save less than 5% of their household income in the last 12 months, and an additional 26% were not able to save any money at all. Another quarter of Americans saved between 5% and 10% of their income, 19% say they saved between 10% and 20%, while 4% saved more than 20% of their household income.

Americans who earn more, save more. Seven in 10 of those earning over $50,000 saved more than 5% of their income in the past year, including a third who saved 10% or more. Among the wealthiest Americans, those earning $100,000 or more annually, 52% saved 10% or more of their income, including 14% who saved over 20%.

On the other hand, more than half of those earning less than $30,000 were unable to save any money in the past year. Just one in five says they saved 5% or more of their earnings.

Men were more likely than women to have saved a portion of their income in the past 12 months. 54% of men saved more than 5% of their income, compared to 41% of women who saved that much.

Most Americans say they just are not flush enough to save money. 48% say their household earns enough income just to meet their bills and obligations, 33% say they earn enough to save and buy some extras, and 17% do not make enough to even pay their bills.

YOUR HOUSEHOLD INCOME IS …
Enough to save and buy some extras
33%
Just enough to pay bills
48%
Not enough to pay bills
17%

Those under age 30 are less likely than older Americans to say they earn enough money to save and buy some extras; just 24% say this. White Americans are also more than twice as likely as African Americans to earn enough money to be able to save. And as expected, those in the higher income brackets are more likely to say they can save and buy a few extras than those in the lower income brackets.

The inability of many Americans to save now could have an effect on the financing of their retirement. In this poll, Americans claim they will rely less on Social Security and more on savings when they retire. Among Americans currently not retired, 55% of them plan to rely on savings to fund their retirement. But 47% of this group saved less than 5% of their income in the past year and another 17% were unable to save at all.

In addition, 67% of Americans are concerned about having enough money to pay for major expenses such as health care, tuition, buying a home and retirement (including 38% who are "very" concerned). A third report not being concerned.

CONCERNED YOU WILL HAVE ENOUGH MONEY FOR MAJOR EXPENSES?
Very
38%
Somewhat
29%
Not very
19%
Not at all
14%

Looking ahead, just a quarter of Americans describe their household's financial future as being "very secure." 54% feel somewhat secure, while 21% are feeling not very or not at all secure about their household's financial future. Among those very concerned about major expenses, just 7% feel very secure about their financial future.

FEELINGS ABOUT YOUR HOUSEHOLD'S FINANCIAL FUTURE
Very secure
24%
Somewhat secure
54%
Not very secure
12%
Not at all secure
9%

Many Americans have met their financial expectations, but few have exceeded them. 47% say they are about as well off financially as they expected to be at their age, 27% say they are better off, while 24% say they are worse off financially than they expected.

FINANCIALLY, ARE YOU BETTER OFF THAN YOU EXPECTED?
Better off
27%
Worse off
24%
About as expected
47%

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they are better off financially than they expected at their age.

TECHNOLOGY

Six in 10 Americans say new technologies such as the Internet and cell phones have made their daily lives easier. Just 5% say such technologies have made their lives more difficult, while a third say they haven't made much difference.

IMPACT OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES ON YOUR DAILY LIFE
Made life easier
60%
Made life more difficult
5%
No difference
34%

Men and women are equally as likely to say new technologies have made their lives easier. Those 65 and over are less likely than their younger counterparts to have had their life improved by such technologies. In fact, 60% say their daily life has not been affected, while 70% of those under 30 say new technologies have made their life easier.

Education is a factor as well. 75% of Americans with a college degree or higher say new technologies have made their lives easier, compared to 45% of those with a high school diploma or less.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1118 adults interviewed by telephone January 14-18, 2004. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on all adults.
  • Joel Roberts

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