American workers may not have the best financial circumstances, but at least they're keeping on top of their health - according to new research from the Principal Financial Well-Being Index. Those financial circumstances also show them being underprepared for retirement.
Over a thousand workers surveyed by Harris Interactive in April and May demonstrated that they're more likely to rate themselves as being physically healthy (53 percent) versus financially healthy (only 31 percent), though more than 80 percent say they understand the connections between the two - and say that staying physically healthy is an investment in their financial future.
To that end, 69 percent of workers surveyed said they realize that staying in good health and physical condition will help them avoid major health expenditures in later life, a major concern for those contemplating their retirement plans and expenses.
"Good physical health is a growing priority as Americans recognize there is a real financial payoff," said Luke Vandermillen, vice president of retirement and investor services for The Principal, in a statement. "You really can't separate health from wealth. By staying well and spending less on health care, workers are able to save and invest more for their financial future."
Many of the workers surveyed said they've also tried to pay attention to their finances in the same way they'd get a medical check-up from a doctor, and been more proactive about things. Almost half regularly monitor their spending levels, a quarter have created a budget or have re-evaluated their investments, 18 percent have reviewed their insurance policies and 17 percent have created a solid financial strategy.
Two-thirds of those surveyed also said they'd set up an emergency fund to be used if they lost their job or faced an unanticipated major expense - more than said they'd made the same plans back in 2009's survey.
But their proactive stance hasn't paid off in terms of retirement planning, the survey notes. Only 34 percent say they believe they're saving enough money to live comfortably in retirement, though half say they are making progress toward achieving their financial goals.
Those who've enlisted the help of a professional financial planner tend to be more positive (62 percent) about that progress than those without an advisor (46 percent).
Among the top financial self-diagnoses made by those surveyed, 49 percent realize they are not saving enough, 27 percent say that debt is a major issue and 23 percent say they did not start their retirement savings planning early enough in their careers.
"The economic uncertainty of the past few years has taught Americans that they need to adopt a more hands-on, preemptive approach to their personal finances," Vandermillen adds.