Americans Live for Today Rather Than for Retirement

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Americans live for today but worry about tomorrow. Even though many of us fear running out of money during retirement, we are unwilling to change our current spending habits, according to a Merrill Lynch survey of "mass affluent" individuals with $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets. Having enough money to live "in the here and now" is a bigger priority for most of those surveyed (63%) than saving more for the future (48%).

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While many fear losing a job (37%), public speaking (27%) or gaining weight (25%) – most (55%) worry about not having enough money to last throughout retirement. But few will reduce outlays for entertainment, eating out or vacations to save more money for life after work. However, most parents will cut spending in order to help their children -- more than one-third (35%) say they have withdrawn funds from their savings or investment accounts to help their kids out during a financial bind.

"Many mass affluent investors are taking more of a "live for today" financial approach than you might expect given their fear of running out of money in retirement," said Aron Levine of Bank of America. "That type of disconnect might have a significant impact on the long-term financial well-being of these investors."

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This "carpe diem" disposition is deep rooted: even if they were to receive an unexpected million-dollars, less than one in five (19%) say they would make it a priority to set aside the windfall for retirement.

Over two-thirds (68%) of survey participants who are divorced say they are worried about not having enough money during retirement, compared to 53% of those who are single, married or widowed.