Americans' Love-Hate Feelings For $$$

The more Americans want money, the more they seem to fear it.

A survey released Tuesday by the American Association of Retired Persons at the AARP's biennial convention found contradictory feelings about becoming wealthy. The survey pool consisted of people of all ages, races, income and education levels.

While almost two-thirds of those surveyed said they would like to be wealthy, three-fourths said wealth promotes insensitivity in others.

"They're not a lot of Scrooge McDucks out there," said Hugh
Delehanty, editor-in-chief of AARP's Modern Maturity magazine, referring to the Disney cartoon character known for his avarice.

The survey of 2,366 people was conducted last winter for AARP, the advocacy group for retirees, by Belden Russonello & Stewart and Research Strategy Management. It had a margin of error of 2.5 percent.

Despite the booming economy, a lot of people struggle to keep their heads above water. Seventeen percent of those surveyed felt they were below average financially.

More troubling, a quarter of those surveyed do not save or invest for the future and two-fifths said they carry over credit card debt from month to month.

The Baby Boom generation lives beyond its means more than other age groups, but Asian Americans report lower credit card debt than other ethnic groups, according to the survey.

Among the survey's other findings:

  • At least seven out of 10 people have altered one important aspect of their lives, such as going to college, because they didn't have enough money. Blacks and Hispanics reported more such limitations than other ethnic groups.

  • Two-thirds of nonretirees believe they will have enough money to retire by age 65. Less than a third want to keep working past 65.

  • Age and income matter a great deal in measuring a desire for wealth: The younger and richer a person, the more likely the desire to be wealthy. Asian Americans expressed a greater desire for wealth than other ethnic groups.