Americans sacrifice less, save less

AS numerous surveys have confirmed, the majority of Americans are not saving enough for their retirement. Part of this shortfall is lack of awareness and foresight in financial planning. But poor self-discipline is further compounding the problem, according to a new survey.

Most resolutions to save more and spend less last year went unfulfilled, the 1994 Fidelity Investments retirement planning survey found. For example, of the 67 percent who planned to trim leisure activities, only 33 percent actually did.

In terms of saving, this year looks even less promising than last. Now that the economy is bouncing back, consumers are loosening up the purse strings , the survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners showed.

This year, only one-half of the 1,400 respondents (54 percent) said they would willingly reduce personal spending to salt away more money for retirement. Last year, almost three-fourths (74 percent) were prepared to make the sacrifice. In hard dollar terms, that means consumers would cut $2,985 from spending this year, compared with $4,158 in 1993 - a 20 percent decline.

At the same time, ironically, more respondents (49 percent) said they were comfortable with what they had put aside this year than last - 16 percentage points up from 1993.

Roger Servison, managing director of Boston-based Fidelity, warned that current optimism among consumers belies the fact that Americans run the risk of outliving their savings if they don't curb the spend-now-save-later habit. ``Americans have developed a false sense of security,'' he said in a press release Feb. 1.

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