Americans are pessimistic about their financial future, saying financial independence is almost impossible to acheive and the outlook for future generations is bleak, a national survey said.
The International Association of Financial Planning released results of their second annual national opinion survey in June on "How Americans Cope with Their Finances."Not surprisingly, the IAFP survey indicates consumers need a financial planner to help them through these rough times, but survey results also show Americans believe they have problems saving for their future.
"It's startling that every third American adult across all income levels no longer buys the traditional American dream that if you work hard enough you can achieve financial independence," said IAFP chairman Larry Carroll.
IAFP surveyed 1,008 people to cover a random sample representative of the entire population and a special sample of higher-income households earning $50,000 or more.
According to the survey, 55 percent of Americans said the country is at an economic crossroads because of the federal budget and trade deficits, unemployment, inflation and an unstable stock market foretelling potential economic problems or emergencies.
Americans indicate a strong preference for the Republican Party - 20 percent overall and 50 percent in higher income groups - as the party best able to solve the nation's economic problems, the survey said.
Leading household financial concerns among those interviewed were paying monthly bills, taxes, medical expenses and dealing with inflation, while higher income Americans listed taxes, children's education and inflation as their primary worries.
The two top financial objectives of those surveyed were retirement, 23 percent, and children's education, 16 percent. Those areas ranked ahead of buying a new house (13 percent), increasing savings (13 percent), and gaining financial security and independence (12 percent).
Thirty-two percent of the general public and 23 percent in the higher income bracket said financial independence today is impossible for many.
About one-half of those surveyed are concerned about outliving their retirement income, basing their fear on a low fixed income, poor health and the possibility of sickness, lack of money and state of economy. Among those surveyed in the high income group, women were most concerned about outliving their retirement, with 50 percent saying they were either very or somewhat concerned, while those over 55 were the least concerned about it.
Thirty-nine percent of both the general public and higher-income families believe the next generation will be worse off in meeting their financial needs and goals.
Women, for the second year, find it more difficult than men to pay expenses and have savings left, but the gap between the sexes is narrowing, the survey said.
"In 1988 women are 19 percent more likely than men to say it's harder now, while in 1987 women were 34 percent more likely to say it's harder," the survey said.
When asked who they select as their financial advice professional, 35 percent of those surveyed use a financial planner, 24 percent get advice from their accountant, 17 percent rely on their stockbroker, 16 percent use their insurance agent, 10 percent prefer a banker and 4 percent use an attorney.