Weak financial standings impact consumers' buying power

A number of new financial obstacles sprung up during the recession that continue to threaten the long-term plans of millions of Americans.

A number of new financial obstacles sprung up during the recession that continue to threaten the long-term plans of millions of Americans.

In recent years, falling home prices, drained retirement funds and adult children returning home have impacted the financial safety and soundness of nearly 65 percent of Americans between the ages of 48 and 60, according to a report from Northwestern Mutual. As a result, this could potentially have an effect on the rate at which these prospective buyers purchase retirement properties.     

"Americans approaching retirement have serious concerns about their financial preparedness for living comfortably in this next phase of their lives," said Northwestern Mutual senior vice president Dave Simbro. "It has also underscored for many of them the critical need for solid financial planning in the years ahead."

Although economic uncertainty continues to have an impact on Americans in this age group, it wasn't the only factor that concerned them. The lifespan of couples was also a cause for alarm, as there is a 50 percent chance at least one spouse will live to the age of 94 and a 10 percent chance one of them reach 100 years old. These extra years could put a serious strain on their savings and further affect their long-term spending plans.

Meanwhile, Americans between the ages of 48 and 60 weren't the only individuals to experience economic hardship in recent years. In fact, between 2005 and 2010, median household net worth fell from $102,844 to $66,740, according to a report from the Census Bureau. This occurrence has weighed heavily on the buying power of many middle-class Americans.

"The overall decline in net worth reflects drops in housing values and stock-market indices," said Census Bureau economist Alfred Gottschalck.

Specifically, Americans 65 years and older experienced a 13 percent decline in their finances during this period, while those under 35 saw their median net worth plummet 37 percent. But Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 experienced the largest decline after their net worth was down 59 percent as of 2010.  
 
Additionally, educational rifts continued to have a serious impact, the report said. In 2000, college graduates were likely to make two times as much as those who only completed high school. By 2010, this gap grew to nearly 5.8 times as much as those with high school diplomas.



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