According to the survey, the financial priority of most adults is to save without providing for retirement

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There are some financial goals that are more pressing for adults right now than filling their nest egg.

For 2022, people have made saving for retirement their top financial priority, according to the most recent First National Bank of Omaha survey. And nearly half of respondents — 46% — said they had less than $15,000 saved for retirement.

In addition, 59% fear that they will not be able to retire at 65.

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The survey was conducted in February among more than 1,000 US adults and was weighted according to population.

So what are people focusing more on this year when it comes to their finances? About 40% said increasing retirement savings was their primary goal, and another 30% named paying off debt.

“While it’s a key element of your financial well-being, prioritizing retirement planning depends on where you are in the retirement cycle, how much you have in savings, and what your personal situation is in terms of employment, amount of debt, etc .is,” he said to Sean Baker, executive vice president of Individual Banking at First National Bank of Omaha.

Retirement planning is a pressing concern for many workers, as research consistently shows many people have little saved for their golden years. As companies offer less traditional annuities, retirees generally have to rely on Social Security and their own savings to fund a retirement that could span two or three decades.

According to a report by PwC, around a quarter of American adults have no retirement savings at all. Among retiree savers, the average 401(k) balance for those ages 55 to 64 — people who are generally approaching retiree status — is $84,714, according to Vanguard’s recent How American Saves report.

In general, according to Fidelity Investments, if you plan to retire at age 67, it’s recommended that you save 10 times your annual salary.

While it can be difficult to balance retirement planning with other financial priorities, it pays to try to save as much as possible, said Kathryn Hauer, a board-certified financial planner at Wilson David Investment Advisors in Aiken, South Carolina.

“One way to deal with the demands is to commit to paying an amount, no matter how small, in a 401(k) or [individual retirement account]’ said Hauer.

If you can’t, “start small with irregular deposits of whatever amount you can spare,” she said. “Every little helps.”

For 401(k) plans, the 2022 contribution cap is $20,500, with the over-50s group receiving an additional “catch-up” of $6,500 (for a total of $27,000). For IRAs, whether Roth or traditional, the eligible contribution limit this year is $6,000, with an additional $1,000 if you are at least 50 years old ($7,000 total).

The First National Bank of Omaha survey also showed that 30% of respondents felt their overall financial well-being is better than it was before the pandemic, and 44% said it was about the same.

About a third (34%) say they believe their credit history is getting in the way of financial well-being. According to the survey, the financial priority of most adults is to save without providing for retirement

Gary B. Graves

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