The Northwestern Mutual 2013 Planning and Progress Study shows that half of Americans are less financially secure than they thought they would be at this point in their lives.

As participants age, the attitudes change. For example, in the Gen-Y category for example, 34% say the feel financially secure. In the “mature” category, 59% say they feel financially secure. Gen-Y singles and those with children under 18 are all more likely to be less financially secure now than they thought they would be.

Still more than half of Americans – 56% – say they are (financially) prepared to live to the age of 75.

The report breaks out the attitudes of men and women. Men are more likely to say they are disciplined financial planners (37% vs. 31%) but also that their financial planning needs improvement (66% vs. 59%).

Men are twice as likely to say they've fallen behind due to market losses on investments, and admit they've suffered declines in their retirement savings over the last three years (25% vs. 9%). Women are less likely to say they're comfortable with the risks associated with growth strategies when investing for the future (10% vs. 16%).

“While the differences in perspectives between men and women are interesting, ultimately our study found that too many people – regardless of gender – ended up in the exact same place: trying to play catch-up,” says Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president.  “So this is less about men being from Mars and women being from Venus and more about both finding themselves on the same planet, and the only way off is to have a good solid financial security plan and a trusted guide.” 

Men, however, feel more financially secure despite their comfort with risk, and higher probability of having suffered market losses, they still feel more financially secure than women.  For example, the study goes on to show that 47% of men feel financially secure right now, compared with just 40% of women. One third of women surveyed do not currently feel financially secure.

And only 53% of women are financially prepared to live to age 75, compared to 60% of men. Finally, Just 32% of women say they have the financial resources to live to age 95, vs. 38% of men.

While the American Dream is alive, at least within the report, just over a majority (52%) say they will retire in their 60s where as 42% expect to retire in their 70s and 80s with a small six percent expecting to retire before the age of 60.

Joel Kranc is Director of Kranc Communications, focusing on business communications, content delivery and marketing strategies. He has written and worked in the retirement and institutional investment space for 17 years covering North American markets, large institutional pensions and the adviser community.


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