Most Americans Identify Themselves as Savers

Financial wellness programs can leverage employees' financial personalities to decide their approach to financial wellness programs, PwC says.

Asked about their attitude towards money, 51% of Americans, the largest percentage, say they are savers, according to PwC’s 2018 Financial Wellness Survey.

In fact, this is true for each generation: Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers. However, nearly one-third of savers have less than $50,000 saved for retirement, and more than one-third would not be able to meet basic expenses if they were out of work for an extended time. Furthermore, one-quarter of savers are having a hard time meeting monthly household expenses or are using credit cards to pay for necessities.

This shows that savers need help, PwC says. They good news is that this group is motivated, so financial wellness programs should encourage people to check in with a coach for periodic financial check-ups, PwC says. “This group welcomes opportunities to talk periodically with a financial coach to refine what may be vague retirement goals, find out if they’re on track, and develop bite-sized action steps for follow up and accountability,” PwC says. “This approach helps improve employee confidence and opens the door for future financial coaching on other topics.”

Givers, which 18% of the American population identifies themselves as, are risking their own financial security and need help understanding the ramifications of this, PwC says. Nearly half have less than $50,000 saved for retirement, and two-thirds either don’t have sufficient emergency savings or do not know what to do. Only 35% are confident they will be able to retire, compared to 55% of savers. One-quarter of givers have taken out a loan from their retirement account.

To serve this population, financial wellness programs should—ever so gently, as this group’s heart is in the right place—explain the impact of putting someone else before themselves, such as paying for a child’s education rather than saving for retirement. It would also be helpful to show this group how much they need to save for retirement, as this might inspire them to get on track.

Sixteen percent of the population identifies themselves as spenders. Not surprisingly, 75% of this group consistently carry credit card balances, and 45% have taken out a loan from their retirement account. This group is the most likely to stress out over their finances.

This group is particularly receptive to financial wellness programs from their employer that help them manage cash and debt, PwC says. “Given that spenders are the most likely to find it embarrassing to ask for help with their finances, it’s critical that financial wellness program messaging acknowledge that it is not a sign of weakness to seek help,” PwC says. “Make sure to emphasize that working with a financial coach doesn’t mean they’ll be judged or tested on their financial knowledge.”

Nine percent of the population says they are risk haters. Less than one-third of this group is confident they will be able to retire. This group could best be helped by estimating their insurance needs, PwC says. They are also receptive to getting a second opinion from a financial coach.

Finally, 5% of the population say they are hands off when it comes to money, and 1% say they are gamblers. More than half of the hands-off group are stressed about their finances, with emergency savings and retirement being their foremost concerns.

Even though hands-off and gamblers may not be receptive to a financial wellness program, if it embraces their autonomy but offers the resources of a financial coach, they might participate in such a program, PwC says.

PwC’s findings are based on a survey of 1,600 workers. The report can be downloaded from here.