July 24, 2024

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Many Americans Feel Confident About Hitting Their Financial Goals, Survey Finds

4 min read

By Kathryn Pomroy, Kiplinger Consumer News Service (TNS)

Despite continued pricing pressure from inflation, the majority of Americans feel they are better off financially than the generations that came before them, according to Charles Schwab’s annual Modern Wealth Survey. 

Schwab’s 2024 Modern Wealth Survey sought answers to a series of financial questions regarding the topic of how Americans feel about the likelihood of reaching their financial goals versus previous generations. The online survey was conducted in March 2024 and included 1,000 adults aged 21 to 75 plus an additional 200 members of Gen Z. 

Prices on things like housing, groceries, insurance, healthcare, and more are some 13% higher than they were two years ago, creating pressure on households at the moment. But there is a belief that longer term, the overall financial picture is better than it has been for decades, to differing degrees, depending on the age of the respondent.

This optimism is strongest among boomers, with 66% believing they are more or as likely as the generations before them to reach their financial goals. When asked to compare themselves to previous generations, Gen X (63%), millennials (62%), and Gen Z (60%) also showed a similar level of confidence. 

Key points from the survey:

  • 64% of Americans feel they are in a better position to reach their financial goals than the generations that came before them.
  • Almost half of Americans feel they live a better lifestyle than their parents at the same age, and are better at investing their money.
  • Three in five Americans are investing today, with younger generations beginning to invest earlier.
  • More than a quarter of Gen Z were taught about investing in school, significantly more than older generations.
  • Just 36% of Americans have a written financial plan.

Investing driving optimism

One reason people are feeling more optimistic, according to Schwab’s survey, is that 58% of Americans are investing today. That’s up from 53% in 2019—the highest level on record, based on Federal Reserve data. In particular, Gen Z, or those born in the late 1990s, feel an increase in financial confidence because of improved access to investing. This generation started saving and investing when they turned 19, on average. That’s compared to age 35 when boomers started investing. 

The survey also shows that when asked why they are in better financial shape than previous generations, Americans believe they have more ways to build wealth (50%), more investment options and increased accessibility to investing (46%), better investment technology (45%), and additional education resources (43%) than previous generations. 

Living the good life

Over half (52%) of Americans feel they are living a better lifestyle than their parents at the same age and believe they are doing a better job investing (51%), the survey showed, with three in five Americans investing. Americans, in general, are also highly confident in their investing strategy, which is similar across all generations. Asked why they felt such a high level of confidence, 51% said the availability of financial advice and knowledge figured prominently. 

Even so, roughly half of those who feel unsure or lack confidence about their investment strategy say that not being taught about investments at a young age by family members or in school are their top reasons. 

Access to financial advice

The number of social media users worldwide swelled to a record 4.9 billion people in 2024; that number is expected to jump to approximately 5.85 billion users by 2027, according to DemandSage and reported by Forbes Advisor. Yet, with respect to financial advice, Americans are more likely to seek help from a professional financial advisor (59%) or family or friends (57%), than through any social media platform (42%), according to the Schwab survey.

Interestingly, the survey pointed out that most Americans (76%) don’t follow any social media influencers (finfluencers) for financial advice. In fact, most of those surveyed rank social media as the least effective source of financial advice. 

A disparity in financial planning

Although most generations acknowledge greater access to financial advice and knowledge, only one in five say they are currently on top of their finances, and only 36% of those surveyed have a written financial plan. Most say it’s because they don’t have enough money (43%), it’s too complicated (25%) or they don’t have enough time (21%).

Among those who do have a plan, three in four say it makes them feel more in control of their finances, and nearly all (96%) say they feel confident that they will reach their financial goals.

You can find detailed results of the Modern Wealth Survey here.

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All contents copyright 2024 The Kiplinger Washington Editors Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.

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