Lincoln Financial asked survey participants for open-ended responses about their 2017 financial goals, and found that priorities for those individuals with specific goals tend to focus on some key themes: reducing debt, general savings and saving for retirement.
While about one-third of the general population set specific financial goals, the number jumps up to just less than half of Millennials. Many Americans (55%) also made New Year’s resolutions for 2017. Thirty-six percent of those resolutions focused on finances or career, others mostly focused on health and fitness.
Most Americans (72%) say they are progressing with their resolutions in some way, versus 28% who are challenged in moving forward. Those who are successful with their goals use extra funds to pay down debt. Fifty percent of the individuals surveyed say debt is a financial issue, and 14% say it is a “major” issue. However, those who show progress toward their resolutions make reducing debt a priority. About one-third of this group would use any leftover money each month toward paying debt.
Lincoln found those who are successful with their goals don’t sacrifice savings. When money is tight, this group is likely to sacrifice vacations—31% have actually done so in the past year. However, they never skimp on savings. Nearly 60% say they have never sacrificed savings. In addition, Americans who are successful with their financial goals leverage financial products. Those who are progressing with their resolutions are more likely to have a retirement plan (52%), life insurance (45%) and at least one investment account (44%).NEXT: Addressing financial fears
“Those who are progressing toward their goals and resolutions are first and foremost working to ensure they have a solid foundation to build upon,” says Dick Mucci, president of Group Benefits at Lincoln Financial. “Putting some extra money toward debt, savings and insurance coverage certainly pays off in the long run—and those who have financial goals understand this.”
Forty-six percent of Americans say they are excited about having enough money for retirement, but 35% are intimidated by saving for it. This number is highest for Generation X, 47% of whom say they fear saving for retirement. In addition, 42% of Americans are afraid of unforeseen health or accident expenses.
“The things that excite and scare us in regards to money are the same for a reason—they impact one another and are critically connected,” says Mucci. “Without the right protections in place, an accident or illness can derail retirement savings. But if you focus on the outcomes you want and ensure you take the steps to get there, you’ll wind up in a good place. An employer-sponsored retirement plan is a great way to build savings, and insurance coverages offered through the workplace can help protect against the financial challenges that could come with an unexpected injury or illness."
The study—Financial Focus: Goals and Reflections of Today’s Consumer—found most Americans feel “comfortable” or “stable” when it comes to their money—but a significant portion of the population (24%) say they are “barely getting by” or worse.Results of the 2017 Financial Focus Study are based on an online survey of 2,500 adults 18 years of age or older across the United States, conducted in 2017. More findings can be found here.