A lack of financial education is coming back to haunt many Americans, leaving them unprepared for retirement, according to a new survey from Primerica.

Two-thirds (66%) of middle-income Americans feel their early education failed to teach them how to properly manage money as adults, the survey of 1,206 adults earning between $30,000 and $130,000 annually found.

The consequences are now surfacing, with over half (60%) believing they aren't saving enough for a comfortable retirement.

Compounding the issue, more than a quarter (27%) plan to contribute less to their retirement funds this year to cope with rising costs, up 7 percentage points over the last two years.

Among those whose income lags the cost of living, nearly half (46%) are cutting back or pausing savings for the future entirely.

The younger the respondents, the more dissatisfied they were with their financial knowledge gaps from school.

73% of those ages 18-34 said they didn't learn enough about tasks like budgeting, loans, and taxes, compared to 69% of 35-49 year-olds and 65% of those 50-64.

With inflation persisting above 3% for over three years, the lack of financial savvy is especially problematic today.

Nearly half (46%) believe the economy will be worse off a year from now, with more than a quarter (28%) saying they will be worse off.

“These are gaps we have to recognize and address as people plan their financial futures and navigate a fluctuating economic environment that, in recent years, has left middle-income Americans feeling incredibly uncertain about their financial situations,” said Primerica CEO Glenn J. Williams.

“Troubling” illiteracy

Primerica’s findings align with an April report from the TIAA Institute-GFLEC that described America's "low level of financial literacy" as "troubling." On average, adults only answered 40% of retirement literacy questions correctly.

“Continuous effort over time is needed to bring personal finance resources to everybody, from classes in school for the young to programs at the workplace or in communities for working-age adults and retirees,” the institute urged.

It suggests teaching finance in primary and secondary schools in the U.S. Denmark has mandatory financial education for young teens and the U.K. has it in its national curriculum.

Seeking advice from financial professionals can help fill the void.

Jeri Savage, retirement lead strategist at MFS Investment Management, said it’s time “for plan sponsors and advisers to educate workers” on investment strategies and getting retirement plans back on track.

Financial literacy involves budgeting, savings, investments, retirement planning, debt and risk management, and understanding financial products and concepts, said True Tamplin, founder of consultancy firm Finance Strategists.

“You can improve your financial literacy through self-study, formal education, seeking professional advice, and networking with peers,” he said.