Recent economic gains have done little to calm the concerns of most Americans, and many say that they are worried about the state of the nation’s fiscal health and their own personal finances.
A new survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that 29 percent of respondents feel the economy will get better in 2013, but an equal number believe it will worsen. Americans were less than optimistic about the state of their finances as well, with a large percentage citing concerns about retirement savings, putting enough money away for their children’s education and paying off mortgage and credit card debt.
For instance, 72 percent of study participants said they were worried about their ability to amass enough retirement wealth to carry them through their post-working years. Another 41 percent expressed fears that they won’t have enough savings built up to meet their basic necessities, such as food, housing or clothing. Further still, 58 percent of individuals say they may be required to continue working past the national retirement age in order to meet their needs. Rising healthcare costs and childhood education expenses are another stressor weighing on the minds of many individuals, with 65 percent saying they fear incurring medical costs they cannot pay for and 67 percent believing they may not have the funds to send one or more children to college.
Gaining more confidence in financial health
Individuals may feel helpless when it comes to the state of the economy, but they have significantly more control over their own finances. For example, those who feel ill-equipped to prepare for retirement can take a number of steps to build wealth, such as enrolling in or contributing more money to an employer-sponsored fund, investing in stocks or low-risk options and exploring different savings vehicles. It can also be crucial for workers to estimate how much they need to save to live comfortably in retirement, which can help them develop a more structured savings plan.
Setting a budget that takes their financial concerns into account can also be an asset and help individuals feel more confident about their standing. Using resources, such as savings calculators, budgeting spreadsheets and other tools allows consumers to gain more control and insight into their spending. Lastly, those who are unsure of how to tackle a challenging financial situation can also speak with a financial advisor or credit counselor to seek personalized guidance and assistance.