When it comes to saving money, Americans would rather change their eating habits than give up their cell phones, according to a new survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs by Harris Interactive.
The national survey of 1,005 adults, which was conducted for National Financial Literacy Month, found that 41 percent of respondents selected cutting back on eating out as their most likely response to a financial pinch. Cutting off cable TV came in second, at 20 percent, and ending cell phone service or stopping downloading songs and digital products tied at 8 percent each.
In a pleasant surprise, only 2 percent said they would stop contributing to retirement accounts, only 1 percent said they would skip utility payments, and 1 percent would put off rent or mortgage payments.
"Financial success depends on setting clear goals and priorities and sticking with them in good times and bad," said Jordan Amin, chair of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. "While it's clear that Americans' priorities are changing, these results suggest that in tight times they won't jeopardize tomorrow to deal with the financial challenges."
The survey also found that 94 percent of American adults said they have financial concerns of one sort or another. Four in 10 adults, 41 percent, identified basic living expenses -- including the cost of gas, uninsured medical expenses and lack of emergency savings -- as their top financial concern. A quarter, 27 percent, said that their main concerns are related to long-term goals, such as paying for education and saving for retirement. Worries about jobs, homes and caring for aging parents rounded out the list.
"For the first time in three years gas prices -- not retirement -- is the top financial concern in America," Amin said. "Every time we fill up we're reminded that the cost of living is higher. Budgeting is key to ensure that we make it through these challenges and focus on long-term goals."
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