Retirement investing has moved back to the top of the financial to-do list for mass affluent Americans, according to Bank of America’s latest Merrill Edge® Report released today. As this group of investors increasingly finds its financial equilibrium, paying off debt slides to second place. While preparing for retirement is a priority for both men and women, on average, men anticipate saving $232,000 more than women do even though both plan to retire at the age of 66. “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,” said Alok Prasad, head 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 Merrill Edge Report Fall 2013, a semi-annual study of the financial concerns and priorities of the mass affluent (consumers with $50,000-$250,000 in investable assets), also found that retirement goals vary widely from region to region within the U.S. Respondents in the Western U.S. have set their sights the highest, planning to save more than $1 million for retirement, while Northeast respondents revealed the most modest goals, anticipating to save around $500,000. In the second highest bracket, mass affluent in the Southern region anticipate saving $780,000, and Midwest respondents are aiming to save $595,000. Setting aggressive retirement goals, yet there is a gap in current savings When it comes to retirement, overall the mass affluent anticipate saving more than $700,000 for retirement, but currently only have about $160,000 saved. This data suggests there is a gap between retirement goals and actual savings. As the numbers show, many mass affluent will need to close the gap to pursue their target retirement goals.