How honest are you with your financial adviser? Sixty-five percent of advisers say clients most often stretch the truth about living within their means, according to results from the latest Principal Financial Well-Being Index.


The nationwide survey of 616 financial advisers conducted online in the second quarter found that clients' own fears often prevented them from taking the financial actions that differentiate winners from losers.


Advisers say clients' top financial dreams are financial security in retirement (80 percent) and financial security in general (77 percent). Good health (56 percent), travel (42 percent) and living debt-free (40 percent) round out the top five financial dreams.


However, when laying out their actual financial situations to their advisers, clients often twist the facts to put them in a more favorable light, including how much debt they have, risky financial behaviors, level of disposable income, family problems and other issues that should be discussed, say advisers.


"Financial planning doesn't have to be so hard. The most effective advisers help clients envision their financial future," said Tim Minard, senior vice president of distribution at Principal Financial Group Inc. "They help clients reverse the financial lethargy that got them stuck in the first place. Even small actions can result in financial success over time, which is why it's critical to engage an adviser and start financial conversations early and often." To watch a video with more advice from Minard, click here.


According to the survey, the top action steps advisers recommend to clients are:

* Increase retirement savings (77 percent).

* Create a financial plan (73 percent).

* Pay down debt (53 percent).

* Spend less (32 percent).

* See an adviser regularly (22 percent).

* Save enough for an emergency fund (19 percent).