Although more than one-quarter (28%) of Americans say nothing has gotten in the way of saving for retirement, for many U.S. workers, children, household bills and job loss are life events that most often get in the way of building a retirement nest egg. However, a new survey of 2,000 people from ING Direct shows that a majority of Americans (89%) agree that saving for retirement should start with your first job and continue throughout your working life.

While Americans know they should be saving, they are making too many excuses or are not paying enough attention. More than a third (34%) of those who deduct a percentage of their paycheck and just under half (47%) of those who give a fixed amount, don't know how much they currently contribute. And a third of Americans (33%) think it's acceptable to defer retirement savings to pay for another need.

"You have to plan for retirement from day one in the workforce, even as little as a 5% salary contribution annually is going to help retirement come sooner," says Arkadi Kuhlmann, president and CEO of ING.

Americans of all ages and sexes are forgoing retirement planning, but there are marked differences between older and younger generations. And while women are often making financial and purchasing decisions for their households, the survey found they are not taking the same care as they plan for their own golden years.

Among other demographic statistics, the survey finds:

  • 68% of those in their 20s haven't used an account to save for retirement.
  • One in five Americans in their 20s say paying off student loans is a higher priority than retirement.
  • About half of those 40 or older have used a 401(k) to save for retirement.
  • Almost half (46%) of those in their 50s think they are saving enough for retirement.
  • Less than half of those age 50-59 have created a will (48%) or purchased term life insurance (49%).
  • Women are more likely than men to say that they wish they had started saving for retirement earlier. Of those women, the majority (58%) wish they had started saving in their 20s.

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