Budgeting is the top financial goal of individuals overall; men are exceedingly more likely to prioritize investing as a financial goal than women; 20-somethings value saving for major expenses; and parents may be putting their family’s needs ahead of their own, a study finds.
LearnVest, a financial education and planning provider, looked at the profiles of more than 100,000 individuals signing up for LearnVest from April to October of 2015, and found that across key demographic segments—age, gender, geography—budgeting was the top financial goal, capturing 32% of total responses.
Surprisingly, individuals ages 35 to 44 selected budgeting as a top financial goal more so than younger individuals. The study found better money habits and smarter financial organization are the desired payoffs of an effective budgeting strategy.
Other top financial goals included managing credit card debt (24%), saving for a major expense (14%) and paying off student loans (10%), all ranking higher than saving for retirement (8%) or investing (3%). However, the study found men are five times more likely than women to choose investing as their top goal—no matter their age.
Households with children had a higher propensity to select budgeting as their top financial priority compared to households without children. Those with children were 45% more likely to select budgeting as their top goal. For this segment of respondents, the increased focus on budgeting results in a decreased focus on retirement (6%).
The study suggests households with children are putting family needs, such as saving for children’s college education and caring for aging parents, ahead of their own. A recent survey by RBC Wealth Management-U.S. found nearly half of Americans (49%) think helping their children pay for their education is more important than saving for their own retirement.NEXT: Long-term plans should account for current priorities
LearnVest notes that in its 2015 Confidence Report, it identified the trend of the confidence U-Curve. Essentially, those younger than 25 generally felt very confident about their finances, while 30- and 40-somethings were significantly less confident. Once respondents hit age 55, confidence starts to tick up again.
The firm suggests the heightened level of confidence around money for 20-somethings can perhaps be explained by the fact that young people tend to have fewer financial responsibilities and enough money to meet their current needs. They also may expect their salaries to continue increasing at a rapid pace.
Whatever the reason for their confidence, LearnVest’s current Personal Finance Review found 20-somethings were the most likely age bracket to prioritize saving for a major expense, which it clarifies to include things like travel, education, or buying a house. While most 20-somethings have not had the advantage of time to reach other goals—or at least those that some would argue are most pressing, like paying down credit card debt and starting to save for retirement—they appear to be more focused on the aspirational side of financial planning. They are eager to prioritize reaching for these major expenses, even if they know it may take a while to get there.
LearnVest notes that the road to achieving long-term financial goals is not without its challenges, which is why a solid financial plan must take into account life’s financial bumps along the way.
The full Personal Finance Review report is here.