Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed say they live paycheck to paycheck, while less than one-third indicate they feel comfortable financially. and only one-third think they can afford to retire by age 65.
Clearly, the sluggish U.S. economy hasn't made it easy for a lot of American households to think about their financial future.
The survey by the Consumer Federation of America and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards asked financial decision-makers in families about their money planning during the nation's economic recovery. Less than one-third said they have a comprehensive financial plan.
Planning's not just about retirement, it's about shorter-term goals too.
"Certainly, people think about retirement, but education planning, planning for rainy days, emergencies, credit management, and estate planning and taxes, all are an important part of financial planning," said Kevin Keller with the Certified Financial Planner Board.
More than half of those surveyed said investing just seems too complicated, or that it's difficult to know who to trust for financial advice. Simple saving can be a good start. Don't skip it because you can't throw a lot of money at a long-term goal.
Small increments can add up if you start early on a child's education fund or a retirement fund.
Consider the consequences of any money decision, no matter how small it appears at the time. And it's OK to revise a plan. Revisit needs based on life events like the arrival of a new child, or a change in salary.