Americans do a poor job when it comes to saving money. A majority of people, 62%, don’t even have enough savings to cover unexpected bills, according to a Bankrate, Inc. survey.

While saving enough money for retirement is a major concern for Americans, 40% of people aren’t confident they’ll have enough saved — and 80% of workers said they need to save more, according to a LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute survey.

Putting retirement goals down on paper can help. Nine out of 10 pre-retirees said a written plan helps them better understand their retirement objectives, LIMRA found, and three out of four said they were more likely to follow a written plan.

Written retirement plans aren’t only useful for individuals, they also help advisers. An overwhelming majority of advisers, 83%, said “a written plan helps them better understand their client’s goals, which in turn allows them to more effectively help their clients achieve their retirement goals.”

Also see: Easy steps to communicate complex retirement subject matter  

Working with advisers is beneficial to individuals — LIMRA found that 71% of people who work with an adviser said they’re confident about saving enough money for retirement. Just 43% of people who don’t work with an adviser felt the same. 

“Retirees and pre-retirees who work with a financial professional are twice as likely to have developed a written plan for generating income in retirement,” LIMRA says. “They are also more likely to have done comprehensive planning such as calculating retirement assets and estimating income and expenses.”

Most middle-class consumers, 77%, are looking for an adviser who can help them understand what they don’t know about their finances, LIMRA found. “Today’s advisers are expected to know more about clients than just their account balances. Providing help on basic budgeting could go a long way to improving a client’s financial outcomes now and in the future.”

Budgeting is important for 25% of Americans, and more than half of middle-class consumers listed creating a budget as one of their top financial priorities, LIMRA found. Those most interested in retirement education are middle-market (73%) and Generation Y (79%) consumers.

Also see: Financial wellness complements retirement

Saving for retirement and having an emergency fund are the top two goals for middle-class families, but 57% of those households are not saving regularly, a separate LIMRA study found. Half of those surveyed said they would need to borrow money to pay for a $5,000 emergency — and one-third reported having at least $25,000 of debt not related to a mortgage.

Working-age households earning at least $50,000 are doing better when it comes to saving for retirement. Close to 60% save at work, 40% are saving outside of work and more than 70% are saving at work, outside of work or both, LIMRA found. 

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