Saving more, planning not top priorities in survey
By Becky Yerak
Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Melody Sucharda, a certified public accountant with a master's degree in taxation, always makes the maximum contribution to her 401(k) plan. Married with no children, the corporate tax manager also has some savings set aside for emergencies. Still, the Wauconda, Ill., resident, 42, sees room for improvement in her finances.
“I would like to put a little more into savings this year,” said Sucharda, noting that much of the couple's short-term cushion was wiped out in recent years after a failed business investment.
When it comes to striving to save, Sucharda is in the minority, a recent survey shows.
Only 46 percent of respondents in a PNC Financial Services Group Inc. survey said they plan to increase their savings and investing this year.
What's more, these are savvier consumers. The survey consisted of 1,020 U.S. adults ages 35 to 70, with more than $100,000 in investable assets. A quarter of the sample had more than $1 million in investable assets.
“People are finding it easier to develop habits devoted to physical fitness than financial fitness,” Stephen Pappaterra, PNC's head of wealth planning, said. Of respondents to the survey, 19 percent believe they are doing better than expected on saving for retirement; 47 percent believe they're where they need to be.
Worker savings remain modest, and many retirees — and people approaching retirement — haven't socked away enough to provide themselves a comfortable standard of living after they quit working, PNC and others have found. Fewer than half of Americans have tried to calculate how much money they'll need for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonprofit focused on economic security issues.
Sucharda has contributed to a 401(k) at every job since college. She said, however, that she can do a better job of living within her means.
“We have a bad habit of buying things we may not need because they're a good deal,” she said.
The mortgage from the home they bought in 2006 is also hindering them from putting more into savings.
“We can't refinance since the market value has declined,” Sucharda said.
In the PNC survey, 43 percent said their best financial moves include putting as much as they could into retirement plans, as Sucharda has, while 15 percent say living within their means is their best plan of action.
Chris Hartrich and his wife both grew up in the Chicago area but moved to Neenah, Wis., about three years ago for his insurance job. They have four children, with two in college and one a senior in high school.
Partly through budgeting and limiting discretionary spending, they consider their financial condition “healthy,” having been able to finance their kids' college educations and still save for retirement.
Hartrich said he worked with a financial adviser last summer and said he'll probably continue to do so every other year to get feedback on the family's financial planning. In the PNC survey, 43 percent of respondents said they plan to meet with a financial planner in 2013.
While only 46 percent of PNC survey respondents said they plan to boost their saving and investing, 70 percent said they plan to exercise more.
Hartrich's wife, a nurse, says increasing his exercise “would be more valuable than increasing our savings” partly because “the biggest unknown as I approach my 60th birthday is health care costs in retirement.”
The couple are unsure when they'll retire but have begun shifting assets from stock funds into more conservative fixed-income funds.
They're trying to pay off their mortgage as fast as they can, and the move to Wisconsin might hasten that goal.
“When we moved up here we were able to purchase a much less expensive home so that freed up some assets for college costs,” he said.
PNC's survey findings had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The online survey, done in January and designed by Artemis Strategy Group, represents about a fifth of U.S. households.
Becky Yerak is a staff writer with the Chicago Tribune.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Wal-Mart rolls out money transfer service
- Wages have soared in Pittsburgh, but economy appears to have stalled
- Secret Service close to understanding Target data breach
- Former BP employee settles insider-trading charges
- Applications for jobless aid edge up
- Target expands subscription service tenfold
- Judge won’t order recalled GM cars to be parked
- Emboldened by Italy move, QVC to expand into France
- PPG shareholders vote against proposals; sales, profit see double-digit increases
- Facebook feature lets users locate nearby pals
- Earnings carry more weight as investors attempt to look past winter