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AARP: Debt is a Higher Priority Than Retirement Savings for Pre-Retirees

More financial attention is given to paying off significant outstanding debt when compared with saving for retirement among Americans aged 40-59. This is according to the results of a survey jointly conducted by the AARP and the Ad Council, the results of which have been released as a part of a new campaign aimed to encourage more people to save for their retirement years.

33 percent of survey respondents answered that paying off significant debt tied to things like credit cards, student loans or traditional mortgages accounted for their highest financial priority. This is compared with 21 percent of respondents who gave the edge to retirement savings, and 11 percent of whom prioritized the fortification of an emergency fund to offset unexpected expenses.

“Whether we like it or not, Americans are responsible for their financial security in retirement,” said AARP SVP for programs Jean Setzfand in a release accompanying the survey results. “We know that 7 in 10 Americans approaching retirement (55-64 years old) have less than a year’s income saved for retirement.”

The survey also found that over half of those who said they did not do any saving for retirement in 2018 found no room to do so after meeting basic expenses, including food and housing. An additional 37 percent also blamed unexpected expenses as a primary impediment toward accruing retirement savings.

The survey’s methodology included a sample of 1,611 adults ages 40 to 59, who were interviewed between November 28 and December 5.

Read the full breakdown of results at AARP.