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Life is not a game show

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Our e-newsletter and website sometimes contain so many news items based on survey results that I feel like the host of “Family Feud” yelling out the famous line “Survey SAID!” to the contestants and audience.

Within the past few days, some of the survey articles we have shared with our INN audience have given some insight into the financial minds of Americans – and those results are nothing to applaud.

We’re in the midst of summer, and apparently vacation is more top of mind with many Americans than saving for retirement. That’s according to a survey by Edward Jones, that showed 28 percent of Americans spend more time planning their annual summer getaway than they do planning for retirement or college funding. Researching the best way to spend one or two weeks away from home is more important than planning how you will spend 20 or 30 years away from the workforce? Really?

Speaking of retirement, the “elephant in the room” in retirement planning is the cost of nursing home care. A recent survey conducted for MoneyRates​.com showed that the majority of Americans – 57 percent – have seriously underestimated the cost of a nursing home. Although the real cost averages more than $81,000, 57 percent of Americans believe that nursing home care costs less than $75,000 annually, according to the survey. In addition, 67 percent of respondents have less than $75,000 saved for elder-care expenses – including the 40 percent of respondents who have saved nothing for these costs.

What impact will that have on those who are saving for retirement, presuming that they actually are saving something toward retirement?

Americans’ savings rate continues to be alarmingly small, according to another survey. A Bankrate​.com survey says that 26 percent of Americans – just over one in four – have no emergency savings. Sixty-seven percent have saved less than the recommended six months’ worth of expenses and half have saved less than three months’ expenses. The percentage of Americans with at least three months’ expenses in savings declined from 45 percent last year to just 40 percent this year. Even among the highest-income households — those with annual income of $75,000 or above — fewer than half (46 percent) currently have a six-month savings cushion.

The latest word from LIMRA says that 6 out of 10 Generation X and Y Americans say losing their income for 6 months due to accident or illness would have a significant or drastic impact on their families’ financial well-being.

The study shows that only two thirds of Gen Y consumers have any kind of life insurance compared with three quarters of Gen X and Boomers. In addition, fewer Gen Y consumers own individual life insurance (34 percent) than Gen X consumers (45 percent). More than half of Baby Boomers report owning individual life insurance (52 percent).

These surveys continue to drive home the point that Americans need professional advice in helping them to avoid financial ruin.

Too many of us think that all we need to do is win the lottery or strike it big on a game show to be financially secure for the rest of our lives. Someone somewhere has probably conducted a survey on that topic.

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Susan Rupe is assistant editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Connect with Susan →

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