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Savers Are Shortsighted on Long-Term Planning

By Alex Padalka January 3, 2017

Americans are more optimistic and more focused on their own financial planning than they were five years ago, according to a recent survey by the insurer New York Life. But the survey also found they may not be planning far enough into the future — and few plan to enlist the help of a financial professional.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans plan to focus on cutting down their debt, compared to 57% who said so in 2011, according to a survey of 1,863 adults 30 or older conducted earlier this month. And 61% intend to save more, compared to 50% five years ago, the survey found.

However, while the focus on saving and eliminating debt is rising, 30% of respondents plan to increase their spending on dining out, vacations and entertainment, compared to 15% who were planning to do so in 2011, according to the survey.

Nonetheless, more people feel confident about their finances: 43% are optimistic about their finances going into next year, compared to 31% who felt so in 2011. And 41% of Americans feel they will be in better shape next year to reach their retirement goals, compared to just 24% in 2012, the survey found.

But on average, Americans define “long-term” as only 4.4 years, according to the survey. New York Life claims that true long-term plans should be 10, 20 and 30 years into the future.

Not many are likely to learn this, however. Just 24% of survey respondents plan to find a financial professional to help them, although that figure was a mere 14% in 2011, according to the survey.

Many more Americans plan to get their financial advice elsewhere: 47% plan to depend on their family and 42% on their friends, the survey found.