How Americans Feel About Money

by Kelly · 1 comment

in Money & Spending

I was recently recontacted by the PR people at Northwestern Mutual about a new study commissioned by them, called Financial Realities: Generational Advice. It explores how Americans are talking to one another about financial issues. Now maybe it’s because I work in marketing now, in my day job, or maybe because I was a sociology major, or maybe because I’m almost finished writing my thesis (or maybe, just maybe, because I’m a geek and need to get some real hobbies), but I found it really interesting and wanted to share it with you.

Full disclosure: I was not compensated for posting this information, nor for any of their other surveys I’ve shared with you, but now that they know I like this kind of thing, I’m sure I’m going to be getting a whole lot more emails coming my way.

When the data is considered by age and by gender, some truly interesting differences emerge. Here are some of the details:

Responsibility to Pass Along Advice is Strong, But is Different for Men and Women.

Three quarters (75%) of Americas feel a responsibility to pass along financial advice during these economically uncertain times. Yet, according to the survey, men feel less of an obligation to give advice than women – 29% of men report no sense of responsibility to give advice compared to 22% of women. Men are most likely to give financial advice to friends (70% of men giving financial advice provide it to friends), while women are most likely to provide financial advice to children (67% of women giving financial advice provide it to children).

“Best Financial Decision Ever Made”

Gen Y is the most passionate about saving early. When asked about the single best financial decision they ever made, the same answer came up most among all age groups – “I started saving early.” But interestingly, Generation Y was most passionate about saving early, at 54 percent, versus Generation X (30%) and Baby Boomers (30%). Americans age 65 and over reported a tie between saving early and buying products with guarantees like insurance and annuities (21% for each). Important financial lessons are sinking in for Gen Y.

Wisdom Shared Across the Generations

The most common advice given from one generation to another is similar and it is conservative. Boomers are telling Gen Y the same thing Gen Y is telling Boomers: pay off debt faster, prepare financially for retirement and save more. Good financial advice appears to be ageless. On matters of personal advice, the generations agree as well – take better care of your health and spend more time with family.

Overall, the new survey findings reveal that there is strong agreement across all ages about what is the right thing to do – and the right things to do are typically rooted in a conservative long-term approach.

As I said earlier, I like being able to see overall trends that are teased out of people’s individual feelings. I don’t know how represented I feel from this particular survey, as I’m squarely in the Gen X age range and my kids are still too young to be called Generation Y. I do agree with one of their statements, however: Good financial advice appears to be ageless.

What do you think?

{ 1 comment }

1 Jesse August 27, 2010

I love studies like this, I wonder what stats will look like when the “entitlement generation” starts making an impact on the real world.

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