Mike Terry, Deseret News
The Neslen family prepares dinner in their kitchen in South Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. The couple of eight years purchased the home, which is their first home, with the help of a savings program.

A growing number of Americans are struggling to save money for retirement, emergencies and more, according to the 5th annual national survey that assesses household savings.

In the last three years, the number of people in the U.S. who spend less than they earn and save the difference, are building equity in their home, have a sufficient emergency fund, and believe they're saving enough for retirement has gone down, officials associated with the survey told Greenville Online. But they also said the survey showed that having a savings plan has advantageous financial effects, even for families with a lower income.

About 66 percent of Americans spend less than their income and save the extra money, according to the survey. The survey also revealed that about two-thirds "have sufficient emergency savings to pay for unexpected expenses like car repairs or a doctor's visit.

Only 42 percent of Americans say they have a savings plan with detailed goals, and 52 percent of the non-retired say they believe they're saving enough for a retirement in which they will have a "desirable standard of living," according to the survey.

America Saves, managed by the Consumer Federation of America, and the America Education Savings Council, managed by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, organize the annual effort, according to Greenville Online. These organizations comissioned the survey, undertaken by Opinion Research Corp. in the beginning of February. The survey used a sample of 1,007 Americans.

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