Despite taking proactive steps to keep their finances in check, only a third of American workers (34%) believe they are saving enough money in order to live comfortably in retirement, according to new research from the Principal Financial Well-Being Index.

Slightly more than half (51%) report they are making good progress toward achieving their long-term financial goals. However, those workers (62%) who work with a financial professional are significantly more likely to think they are making progress toward achieving their goals compared to those who do not use a financial professional (46%).

Additionally, American workers are significantly more likely to rate themselves as physically healthy (53%) than financially healthy (31%), the survey shows.

Despite continuing concerns about financial health, many American workers at growing businesses with 10 to 1,000 employees recognize the link between physical wellness and financial wellness, with 84% of workers viewing physical health as an investment in their financial future.

In particular, workers are making the connection between physical health and reducing future health expenditures: 69% believe it is either extremely important or very important for them to remain physically healthy in order to avoid major health expenditures later in life. While only 1% of workers think remaining physically healthy is not at all important for avoiding future major health expenditures.

“Good physical health is a growing priority as Americans recognize there is a real financial payoff,” says Luke Vandermillen, vice president of retirement and investor services for The Principal. “You really can’t separate health from wealth. By staying well and spending less on health care, workers are able to save and invest more for their financial future.”   

The survey also shows Americans evaluating the health of their personal finances with the same rigor they evaluate their physical health. Many workers have given themselves a financial check-up in various ways, including:

•           Monitoring spending levels (48%)

•           Creating a budget (28%)

•           Re-evaluating their investments (26%)

•           Reviewing their insurance policies (18%)

•           Creating a financial strategy (17%)

In case of an emergency, such as a job loss or other unanticipated major expense, two-thirds of workers (66%) have money set aside, up from 61% in the fourth quarter of 2009.

“The economic uncertainty of the past few years has taught Americans that they need to adopt a more hands-on, preemptive approach to their personal finances, and a financial check-up is a great tool to do just that,” says Vandermillen. “We’re especially encouraged by the number of workers who have emergency funds, a positive — and hopefully permanent — change in behavior resulting from the financial crisis.”

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