Workers Double 2012 Retirement Savings Goals

Financial new year’s resolutions for 2012 focus on necessities, not luxuries.

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Among those considering a financial new year’s resolution for 2012, nearly half (46 percent) say saving more money is their top priority. The median target savings amount has doubled from $1,200 in 2011 to $2,400 in 2012, according to an ORC International survey of 1,011 adults commissioned by Fidelity Investments.

[See 11 Retirement Benefit Changes Coming in 2012.]

Other popular financial new year’s resolutions include spending less (21 percent) and paying off debt (19 percent). Long-term financial goals were largely the same as last year, including saving more for retirement in a 401(k) or IRA (52 percent), saving for college (45 percent), and putting money aside for likely retiree health care costs (37 percent).

However, short-term financial goals have shifted over the past year. Significantly more people (65 percent) are now aiming to build an emergency fund than at the end of 2010 (50 percent). An increasing proportion of Americans are also saving for a home (32 percent) or a household upgrade or repair (45 percent), up from 22 percent and 26 percent respectively last year.

[See The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2012.]

Fewer people say they will be saving up for more discretionary purchases in 2012. Only 5 percent of those surveyed are putting money aside for a luxury item, down significantly from 19 percent last year. And about a third (35 percent) of people are preparing for a vehicle purchase, down from over half (57 percent) in 2010, Fidelity found.

Another recent survey found that a similar proportion of adults are aiming to boost their savings rate in 2012. The ORC International telephone survey of 1,006 adults commissioned by TD Ameritrade found that half (51 percent) of respondents plan to save more for a financial emergency such as a layoff or loss of a spouse and reduce spending in the coming year. Other popular financial resolutions were found to be paying off credit cards, a mortgage, or education loan debt (47 percent), increasing retirement savings in a 401(k) or IRA (30 percent), and building an investment portfolio (18 percent).

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The TD Ameritrade survey found that 73 percent of respondents plan to make at least one financial new year’s resolution in 2012. The adults surveyed say they consider their financial and health-related goals to be their top priories for the coming year.

Twitter: @aiming2retire