The Customer Effect

With only 5% of Americans confident in their financial health, what are their generational resolutions for 2022?

  • A survey found only 5% of Americans see their financial health as ‘rock-solid’. One in four describe it as out-of-shape, while almost half call it a work in progress.
  • With 59% wanting to focus on increasing their savings, it is the most popular financial resolution among Americans for 2022.
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With only 5% of Americans confident in their financial health, what are their generational resolutions for 2022?

The pandemic spelled chaos for Americans’ personal finance situations. As we near the end of the second pandemic year, with the third around the corner, many still find themselves worrying about their finances. A recent survey by Marcus, a Goldman Sachs brand, found that only 5% of the respondents described their finances as 'rock-solid'. Against that, 24% described their situation as 'out-of-shape', while another 47% said it was a 'work in progress'.

The poll, which received responses from over 1,200 Americans, sought to study people’s new year’s resolutions regarding their financial and physical fitness.

It is not enough to see how Americans feel about their financial health as a general group, and a generational angle to the results helps gain further perspective. The generation that believes their current finances are most out of shape is Gen X. And that makes sense. They’re reaching their peak earning years, or living through them, and yet they are not as wealthy as their parents were at their present age. In fact, due to the pandemic, some 8.6 million Gen Xers said they were unable to make ends meet. The Gen X archetype also displays skepticism and pessimism with respect to their financial situation, given they lived through some notable economic periods. However, the forgotten generation's sentiment may soon fade away, as they find themselves at the receiving end of the greatest generational transfer of wealth in US history.

On the flip side, the survey found Boomers to be the generation most confident about their financial health, with 29% referring to their finances as ‘fit’, even as 24% reported them as being ‘out-of-shape’. With many settling down into their retirement life, with most of their major expenses behind them, it makes sense that they’re a little less worried.

The energetic and hopeful Gen Zers clocked in as the generation with the most ‘work-in-progress’ responses, at 55% –  followed by Millennials at 51%. The younger ones in these generations find themselves at the very beginning of their careers, while the eldest millennials are beginning to enter their highest-earning years. And with high student debt and the rising cost of living, their financial lives do look like a work in progress.

With all these financial worries, one wonders how much time an average person dedicates to their finances in a week. According to the survey, 63% said they spend at least an hour on financial planning every week, while 32% said they spend 3 or more hours on it. 

Generationally, Boomers are the most YOLO with their financial planning. 54% said they dedicate less than an hour a week to their finances. Gen Xers, our serial worriers, dedicate the most time to financial planning, with 35% saying they spend 1 to 2 hours each week. 

The survey also asked people what they would like to focus on specifically when planning their finances in 2022. More than 1 in 2 respondents said their primary focus would be to increase their savings in the coming year and to pay off their debt. The latter falls in line with about 44% wanting to improve their credit score, which has become increasingly critical to people’s lives. Almost as many (43%) want simply to stick to their budget in the coming year, and around 1 in 5 want to focus on investing and to begin contributing to a retirement savings account.

The survey found that the younger generations, who are the furthest from retirement age, are most interested in savings. With the spotlight on savings, we see Gen Xers as the leaders, with 64% wanting to focus on increasing their savings. They are followed immediately by Gen Zers at 63% and Millennials at 62%. 

Who dominated the desire to pay off debts? Millennials, of course. The generation is crumbling under levels of debt unseen before, and in many cases see it as responsible for their inability to save and invest. As the wall between them and saving, they are dedicated to paying off the loans they carry. 53% of Gen Zers also mirrored this desire.

2020 and 2021 have been two back-to-back years of great economic and financial uncertainty, on a national level, and equally so on an individual level. Going into the next year, Americans find themselves at the edge of their seats, trying to get a hold of their finances and build the lives they wish to live.

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