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Americans are trying to save, but they're uncertain about money.

3 minute read

This just in: Americans want to save and are trying to do so.

A new national survey from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) shows that Americans are trying to save despite having many other competing financial interests.

Americans also are feeling optimistic about their financial futures despite feeling uncertainty and anxiety about their finances.

“Our economy has come a long way since the depths of the recession, but most Americans up and down the socioeconomic scale are still facing significant pressures in saving for today and tomorrow,” said CFP Board Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP. “An inability to start saving early, debt and stagnant incomes are just a few of the factors driving Americans’ financial anxiety.”

Blayney noted that despite the economic pressures Americans face, having a financial plan and working with a CFP professional can help them feel more confident about their finances and money choices.

Only half (51 percent) of Americans surveyed save money regularly on a monthly basis. And 35 percent of Americans already utilize the services of a financial professional.

Many others are struggling to have money to set aside for savings at all.

Nearly half (48 percent) of Americans “don’t always have enough money left over to save after bills,” according to the survey.

Debt, drops in income, job changes, and medical expenses are all impeding Americans’ ability to save.

According to the CFP Board survey:

  • More than a third (35 percent) of Americans have seen a significant decrease in their household incomes.
  • A little over a third (34 percent) say that debt prevents them from saving.
  • Roughly one in three Americans (30 percent) has experienced a job change in the past three years, and one in five (20 percent) has experienced a major medical expenditure.

Because of these financial pressures, more than one-third (36 percent) of Americans anticipate working in retirement.

The CFP Board survey also found that when it comes to saving, Americans can be grouped into four distinct categories that are nearly equal in size – concerned strivers (27 percent), stretched worriers (26 percent), tentative savers (24), and confident savers (22 percent).

Concerned strivers

  • Concerned strivers have high incomes, but still struggle to make ends meet due to financial demands, including mortgage debt, credit card debt and college payments.
  • Nearly all place a high importance on saving, but are concerned with their ability to save.
  • About half save money on a regular basis.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 have access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan.

Stretched worriers

  • Stretched worriers are most likely to report being anxious about their financial futures.
  • They have been saving for retirement since age 35, on average.
  • This is the only segment where staying current on bills is a higher priority than saving.
  • Four in 10 have access to an employer-sponsored savings plan. 

Tentative savers

  • Tentative savers skew older than concerned strivers, but have similar levels of income.
  • Almost eight in 10 save regularly on a monthly basis, but are still concerned about their ability to save.
  • Nearly two-thirds are not confident they are saving enough for retirement.
  • Seven in 10 have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Confident savers

  • Confident savers began saving for retirement around the age of 25.
  • Saving money is a top priority and they save money regularly on a monthly basis.
  • They feel confident about their financial future and retirement savings goals, and feel well prepared to make investment decisions.
  • Nearly eight in 10 have access to an employer-sponsored savings plan.

According to the survey, Americans with higher income, education and investable assets are generally more confident and positive toward savings, feel better informed about their savings options, and have positive attitudes toward their financial futures.

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About the Author

Lucy Lazarony

Lucy Lazarony

Lazarony is a freelance writer based in South Florida.

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