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In an effort to reverse their fortunes, they are setting financial goals and sticking to them.

3 minute read

Most Americans are doing just fine financially, but a fourth of them are having trouble staying afloat according to a new study from Lincoln Financial Group.

The financial management firm’s survey of 2,500 citizens found that 75 percent are either “comfortable, stable or very well off” with their finances — but the rest were either “barely getting by or in trouble.” With that kind of outlook, 36 percent of all those questioned say they have set some type of financial goal and 72 percent of those feel like they have made some type of progress with it.

So what goals are people setting during New Year’s Eve and beyond? Well, besides getting back into shape, they are hoping to work out their finances, too.

Setting money goals

More than a third of people in the study had some type of specific financial goal in mind for the year, while 45 percent only had a vague idea of what they wanted to do. Those who plan actually were younger…

  • 47 percent of old millennials and 43 percent of young ones said they had specific final goals, more than Generation X (36 percent), or baby boomers (29 and 23 percent for young and old)
  • Nearly every generation had almost half its members with at least vague goals, with only the old millennials (42 percent) under the 45 percent average
  • Older generations tended not to have any financial goals, with old boomers (34 percent) and young boomers (24 percent) saying they did not make specific goals. Only 16 percent of Gen X members and 12 percent of young and old millennials did not have any specific goals.

The goals that people set are helping them feel better about their future as well. Half of those who set goals say they feel their financial situation will be “much better” in four years, compared to 23 percent of those who had a rough idea of goals and 12 percent of those who did not set any.

What goals are people making?

Many people tend to set goals during New Year’s Eve to have them living better going into the next year. Forty-five percent of people set some goals for the next year on New Year’s, planning to do everything from working out and dieting (75 percent) to relaxing more (23 percent) or spending more time with family and friends (18 percent).

For the 36 percent of those who set financial goals, they had specifics in mind:

  • 29 percent want to pay-off debt or their bills
  • 24 percent want to add to their savings
  • 12 percent want to make or add to their investment portfolio
  • 11 percent want to either make more money, find a better job or save to a specific figure
  • 10 percent want to buy a home
  • 8 percent want to spend less
  • 6 percent want to save more for retirement or buy a car
  • 12 percent have financial goals that are miscellaneous and don’t fit into the above categories

Getting them completed

Positive thinking can be good, but a goal is only as good as the progress you make on it. Fortunately for them, nearly three out of four people are actually making progress:

  • 72 percent say they are doing “very or somewhat well” in accomplishing their goals. the other 21 percent are either doing just “OK, not well at all or have given up entirely on their goal.”
  • When it comes to paying off debt, 29 percent of people are progressing compared to 23 percent who struggle. They are also avoiding sacrificing their savings, with 59 percent saying they have never done so.
  • People are struggling the most with building their emergency savings, with over 45 percent saying they have not progressed compared to 54 percent who did.

In general, people who are setting goals are mostly progressing with them, as no goal had more challenged individuals than progressing ones. In spite of their struggles, only 1 percent in total has completely given up, meaning the goals are giving them a destination to shoot for.

Don’t know where to start with your goal? Here are some tips for building your savings, budgeting your spending better, buying health insurance and paying off your debt.  After all, you can’t complete a goal if you don’t set one in the first place.

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About the Author

Ryan Lynch

Ryan Lynch

Ryan Lynch is a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He was the two-time editor in chief of the student-run newspaper.

Published by, LLC Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: A Quarter of Americans Struggle to Make Ends Meet - AMP.