Atlanta Forgoes Saving for Retirement With a New Goal in Mind

May 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM Eastern

Atlanta residents are mirroring millennials across the country as they start to plan long-term for financial freedom instead of retirement. Fifty-seven percent of Atlanta residents and 63 percent of millennials in the United States are looking to achieve the amount of money or savings needed to live their desired lifestyle, while Gen Xers and baby boomers in the United States (55 percent) are saving to leave the workforce.

These findings are according to the latest Merrill Edge Report, a biannual survey of 1,000 mass affluent Americans1 that oversampled 300 Atlanta residents between March 21 and April 5, 2017. The report reveals strong similarities between how Atlanta residents approach their financial futures compared to younger generations in the United States. 

“This spring’s report shows there’s a change in why Atlanta respondents are saving,” said Aron Levine, head of Merrill Edge. “With more Atlanta residents saving for their desired lifestyle instead of retirement, Americans should take a hands-on approach to pursuing their goals and create a plan to help them get there.”

However, despite saving long-term for financial freedom, it appears Atlanta residents could improve their everyday saving habits. The report found Atlanta respondents are currently more likely to spend their money on travel (76 percent), their home (75 percent), dining out (63 percent) and fitness (51 percent) than invest in their financial future.

Preparing for life’s “what ifs”

In line with national respondents who are saving less than 10 percent (42 percent) of their salary, 43 percent of Atlanta residents are saving less than 10 percent of their salary, including 5 percent who don’t save at all. This savings gap may be the reason why Atlanta respondents don’t feel prepared for life’s “what-if” scenarios: 

  • Sixty-four percent are not very confident they could achieve their financial goals if they were to get divorced.
  • Sixty-seven percent say they are not very confident they could achieve their financial goals if they had children.
  • Forty-three percent are not very confident they could achieve their goals if they outlived their significant other.

Atlanta respondents think they could do a better job to prepare for life’s surprises. About half of Atlanta residents believe individuals in the U.S. should be required to receive a financial education, and 53 percent believe they should be required to save for retirement.

The future of financial advice

Innovations in technology have a significant influence on the future of saving, as many Atlanta residents and Americans alike are increasingly embracing recent industry advancements to make investment decisions and receive guidance. 

Forty-seven percent of Atlanta respondents say they make and manage their investments through an online or mobile portal. Atlanta residents cite this ability to invest via mobile makes them feel knowledgeable (44 percent) and empowered (43 percent).

1 Merrill Edge Survey Methodology
Convergys (an independent market research company) conducted a nationally representative, panel sample online survey on behalf of Merrill Edge March 21-April 5, 2017. The survey consisted of 1,023 mass affluent respondents throughout the U.S. Respondents in the study were defined as aged 18 to 34 (millennials) with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000 or those aged 18 to 34 who have investable assets between $20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000; or aged 35-plus with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000. For this purpose, investable assets consist of the value of all cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds and all other types of investments excluding primary home and other real estate investments. We conducted an oversampling of 300 mass affluents in the following markets: Los Angeles, Dallas, South Florida, Chicago, Atlanta, and Phoenix. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample and about +/- 5.6 percent for the oversample markets, all reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

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