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The combination of high inflation and lingering economic fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic could push more Americans to pay down debt and save for emergencies instead of building up retirement nest eggs, according to a recent survey by the First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO).

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2022 ABPN Financial Wellness Survey of 1,059 American adults, conducted in February, found that only 17% of respondents have made saving for retirement their top financial priority in 2022. And that’s despite 59% of Americans surveyed worrying they won’t be able to retire at age 65. , and almost three quarters (73%) fear that social security will eventually run out.

A much higher percentage of respondents have other plans for their money. Four in 10 said increasing their emergency and daily savings was a top priority, while 30% said paying off debt was a top priority. A further 30% said their financial wellbeing was better now than before the pandemic, and 44% said it was about the same. About a third believe that their credit history prevents them from ensuring their financial well-being.

The survey also revealed that many Americans are falling far behind their retirement savings goals. Nearly half (46%) of respondents have less than $15,000 saved for retirement, and a quarter say they have less than $1,000 in overall savings. About a quarter of American adults have no retirement savings, CNBC reported, citing data from PwC.

These percentages may not rise anytime soon, as 91% of FNBO survey respondents expect inflation to continue to rise through 2022. Forty-one percent said they expect a market correction before investing more aggressively in the stock market.

“Our survey numbers demonstrate how the right knowledge and guidance all play an invaluable role in helping build a smart financial future,” said Sean Baker, FNBO’s executive vice president, individual client segment, in A press release. “An important first step is to develop a financial roadmap. We recommend identifying short-term goals versus long-term goals and seeking out a trusted financial advisor who can help pave the way to achieving those goals.

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Here are some other highlights from the survey:

  • To help boost their savings, 29% of respondents said they planned to get rid of their gym membership, while 94% said they would cancel at least one of their streaming service subscriptions. This year.
  • Other financial plans include reducing spending in the following categories: dining out (64% of respondents said as much), clothing and personal items (49%), technology upgrades (43%), travel (40 %) and housing expenses (31%).

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who has previously held positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work has also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal, and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a BA in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting has earned him awards from the North Carolina Press Association, Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A North Carolina native who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story “Saint Christopher” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest short story competition. Two of her short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. Her first novel, Voodoo Hideaway, is published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.