Concerned to Confident

The Guardian Study of
Financial and Emotional Confidence™

Empowering Americans to take control of their financial future

What keeps you up at night? What makes you tick? Are everyday stressors affecting your financial decision-making?

We surveyed a large representative sample of working Americans to find out what behaviors lead to Americans’ emotional and financial confidence and satisfaction, and how modern-day stress influences financial decision-making.

Additionally, as millennials recently became the largest working generation in the U.S., we conducted new research to focus on the mindset of this influential group.

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What makes our research unique?

We conduct ongoing research to discover the motivations behind financial behaviors. We are continually uncovering new insights and sharing what we find, whether related to the financial and emotional confidence of Americans as a whole, or the unique needs of millennials in the digital age.

Find out more about our methodology.

What makes our research unique?

We conduct ongoing research to discover the motivations behind financial behaviors. We are continually uncovering new insights and sharing what we find, whether related to the financial and emotional confidence of Americans as a whole, or the unique needs of millennials in the digital age.

Find out more about our methodology.

Resources

Unsurprisingly, working Americans are pretty stressed overall...

Americans are stressed about:

47%

38%

37%

36%

are troubled by chaos
in the world

feel the need to stay on top
of breaking news minute-to-minute

are not satisfied with
their lives overall

feel threatened by the
possibility of terrorism at home

Americans Are Stressed About:

47%
are troubled by chaos in the world
38%
feel the need to stay on top of breaking news minute-to-minute
37%
are not satisfied with their lives overall
36%
feel threatened by the possibility of terrorism at home

In fact, 1 in 6 Americans claim that they are very dissatisfied with their life

...however, Americans of all generations have a clear sense of their top life priorities. They include...

Key Priority

“Being Happy” is far and away a top life priority

Key Priority

Having enough money to enjoy life

Key Priority

Retiring with a secure and adequate income

Key Priority

Millennials place a higher emphasis on taking care of aging parents, traveling and having a rewarding career

When it comes to financial priorities, both “retirement” and “having a plan” feature significantly:

59%

of people prioritize having at least some guaranteed income apart from Social Security in retirement

52%

of people prioritize building savings for any reason

47%

of people prioritize having a solid, long-term plan for achieving financial objectives

44%

of people prioritize saving for unexpected expenses in retirement

44%

of people prioritize protecting your family financially if you die or are unable to work

44%

of people prioritize saving for routine expenses in retirement

43%

of people prioritize just keeping up with your monthly expenses

In particular, millennials place more emphasis on saving for big future purchases (such as a home, car or boat), paying college loans and keeping up with monthly expenses.

Financial security is a high priority for many working Americans. But still, most struggle with basic personal finance matters, such as budgeting, saving and planning for the future.

Over 2/3 of Americans feel they are not good at living within their means…and more than 1 in 3 Americans consider delaying retirement.

...and more than 1 in 3 Americans consider delaying retirement.

How does your spending line up with your priorities?

Find out where your money is going today — and how you might better use it tomorrow.

PLAY THE CASH STASH DASH

Through what we’ve learned about working Americans like you, it is apparent that financial and emotional satisfaction are inextricably linked.

People who are most satisfied with life are also financially confident, and those who are least satisfied with life are struggling with their finances.

The real surprise?

The survey data shows that there is, in general, a major gap between attitudes (what working Americans are thinking about and prioritizing) and behaviors (what they are actually doing).

The survey data shows that there is, in general, a major gap between attitudes (what working Americans are thinking about and prioritizing) and behaviors (what they are actually doing).

So what does this mean?

Americans exhibit stress and confidence in varying degrees, and surprisingly, significant levels of stress can be found at all income levels — even among those making significantly more than the average income level.

We found that Americans generally fall into one of four categories, based on their behavior and attitudes, when it comes to financial and emotional confidence.

Confident Planner

Have it figured out when it comes to finances and work/life balance.

CONFIDENT
PLANNER

Have it figured out when it comes to finances and work/life balance.

Ambitious Spender

Enjoy being active in the community, and keeping up with trends.

AMBITIOUS
SPENDER

Enjoy being active in the community, and keeping up with trends.

Retirement Realist

Place a priority on work/life balance, family, and meaningful experiences in retirement.

RETIREMENT
REALIST

Place a priority on work/life balance, family, and meaningful experiences in retirement.

Day-to-Day Decision-Maker

Tend to focus on today’s demands and having enough money to enjoy life.

DAY-TO-DAY
DECISION-MAKER

Tend to focus on today’s demands and having enough money to enjoy life.

And we found that Americans who are confident and satisfied are generally doing these things right…

Good Financial Habits

They have a stronger understanding of basic financial principles and financial solutions

They own a diverse set of growth and protection solutions to address their financial needs

They have a written plan, often created by working with a financial professional

They live within their means and have healthy attitudes about money that are long-term focused

Making a few small changes in how you approach your financial habits could not only put you on track to be more financially confident — they may potentially help you to realize greater satisfaction and confidence as well.

For millennials to remain on track to achieve their financial objectives, it’s not all digital-first. In fact, they feel most confident when using a combination of digital and in-person resources to do so.

And, 45% of millennials prefer face-to-face meetings, over any other form of communication, to stay in touch with an advisor.1

45%

FACE-TO-FACE

23%

EMAIL

20%

PHONE

8%

TEXTING

Follow the path of the most confident Americans and identify where you can start making small changes today.

Good news! You can help yourself toward reaching your full financial potential by making small changes today.

Take the first steps

Want to find out more about the research?

Download the study white paper

How does your confidence measure up?

Take the quiz!

Think Ahead, Act Now™. It’s never too late to take control of your financial future. Identify where you can start making small changes today to help you create an even better tomorrow.

How does your confidence measure up?

Take the quiz!

2018-61785 Exp. 7/2020

Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2018. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY

1 Guardian Millennial Thought Leadership Research, April 2018

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