Last Updated: June 1, 2009
Are you avoiding new debt and saving cash for emergencies? If you're like most Americans, you're probably not making much progress toward achieving what some suggest should be a key goal — to be debt-free at retirement.
Americans surveyed as part of the 2009 Survey of Financial Values and Debt, sponsored by Securian Financial Group, are saving for emergencies, spending less, but they are not reducing their debt. According to the survey, 82 percent of respondents are carrying non-mortgage debt, a figure that is virtually undiminished since 2007, when Securian Financial Group conducted its initial survey.
"At the moment, consumers are clutching cash and postponing debt retirement," FPA member, Kerry Geurkink, CLU, ChFC, CASL, individual annuity marketing director, Securian Retirement, said in a release. "They are wisely adjusting their spending and borrowing habits, but the ultimate goal of debt-free retirement will be more difficult to achieve until they are better able to balance saving and reduce debt."
Indeed, according to the poll, slightly more than one in five baby boomers, Americans born between 1946 and 1964, surveyed said they owed at least $50,000, nearly double the 12 percent who reported those debt levels in the fall of 2007. Older adults in the silent generation, Americans born between 1934 and 1945, also reported a troubling amount of debt. More than one in five (22 percent) said they owed $25,000 or more in 2009, the same as in 2007.
Geurkink offered in published reports these tips for you to prepare for retirement:
- Pay down debt, starting with the credit card or loan with the highest interest rate.
- Use that money to double up on payments of other credit cards or loans.
- Sock away money in a tax-deferred retirement account such as a 401(k).
- Delay impulse buys.
If you need help retiring debt free, consider working with a financial planner. Find a financial planner at FPA PlannerSearch®.