This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

'Mass Affluent' Have Paid Off Their Debts, Moved on to Save

Stock quotes in this article: WFC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Call it a tale of two demographics, with two studies showing the middle class still saddled with debt and the "mass affluent" ready to de-prioritize debt and pick up the pace on their retirement savings.

First up is Wells Fargo's (WFC) Middle Class Retirement Study.

Wells reports that 59% of middle-class Americans are saying paying down debt is their chief financial priority, compared with 52% who said the same thing last year.

Meanwhile, saving for retirement is a "distant priority," with only 13% in the middle class calling it their No. 1 financial obligation -- and 42% of middle-class adults saying that saving for retirement and paying down debt is impossible.

About half of all middle-class Americans see the stock market, which historically has been the main driver of retirement income for millions, as a class issue. Specifically, 45% of those surveyed by Wells Fargo say the stock market "doesn't benefit people like me." Another 52% fear losing their savings in the ebbs and flows of the stock market.

If that seems like the middle class is giving up on Wall Street, that's no accident, experts say.

"There is a striking amount of fear about the stock market among all investors," says Laurie Nordquist, director of Wells Fargo's institutional retirement and trust division. "The middle class just isn't making the link between being invested and the potential growth of their savings, but on top of this fear is apathy -- there is no interest in learning more about investing. Fear and apathy are a bad combination, whereas knowledge about saving and investing is empowering."

"We've got to move people to this mindset," she says.

As for the affluent, well, they don't have that problem.

Merrill Lynch's latest Edge Report, released this week, reports that "mass affluent" Americans say saving for retirement has supplanted paying off debt as the No. 1 item on their financial "to-do" list.

"It's encouraging to see that mass affluent investors are switching to a long-term view of their finances and that they are looking to place their debt behind them," says Alok Prasad, director of Merrill Edge. "As the economy continues to come out of the downturn that began in 2008, this is a good time for both men and women to establish better money habits and set challenging, but realistic, retirement goals."

The mass affluent, defined by Merrill as Americans with between $50,000 and $250,000 in investable assets, say they want to save more than $700,000 for retirement, but only have $160,000 saved, on average, so far.

The mass affluent are realistic, as 61% say they will delay their retirement until they're better equipped to retire securely and a plurality say they will rely on the stock market to "catch up" on their retirement savings.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,804.71 -238.19 -1.40%
S&P 500 1,946.16 -26.13 -1.32%
NASDAQ 4,422.0850 -71.3050 -1.59%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs