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News Release

New Survey Shows Americans Trying to Save; Positive Yet Uncertain About Their Finances

August 21, 2016

Analysis shows four discrete segments of respondents; each involves unique findings regarding money management, retirement savings and outlook on finances

A new national survey released today by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) shows that Americans are trying to save despite having many other competing financial interests. At the same time, the survey reveals that some Americans are feeling optimistic about their financial futures, even with uncertainty about their own 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. Consumers can learn more about the value of financial planning, working with a CFP® professional and finding a CFP® professional in their community at

Click here to view an infographic of the survey findings.

Notable findings of the summary include:

  • Nearly half (48 percent) “don’t always have enough money left over to save after bills”;
  • More than a third (35 percent) of Americans have seen a significant decrease in household income;
  • A little over a third (34 percent) say that debt prevents them from saving;
  • Only half (51 percent) save money regularly on a monthly basis;
  • 35 percent of Americans utilize the services of a financial professional;
  • Roughly 1-in-3 Americans (30 percent) has experienced a job change in the past three years, and 1-in-5 (20 percent) has experienced a major medical expenditure;
  • Half of Americans (51 percent) believe credit card debt is the most important debt to pay off, followed by mortgages (one-third, 36 percent) and student loan debt (19 percent); and
  • More than one-third (36 percent) of Americans anticipate working in retirement.

Additionally, the survey includes a segmentation analysis that focuses on respondents’ propensity to save regularly – including for retirement – and their general feelings toward money. The analysis found that Americans fall into four distinct categories that are nearly equal in size – Concerned Strivers, Confident Savers, Stretched Worriers and Tentative Savers. Key findings include:

Concerned Strivers – 27 percent of respondents

  • 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 26 percent of respondents

  • 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.

Confident Savers 22 percent of respondents

  • Confident Savers began saving for retirement around 25 years old.
  • 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 8-in-10 have access to an employer-sponsored savings plan.

Tentative Savers 24 percent of respondents

  • Tentative Savers skew older than Concerned Strivers, but have similar levels of income.
  • Almost 8-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.

Level of income, education and investable assets strongly correlate across all segments. Not surprisingly, those 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.

CFP Board will be releasing more detailed survey findings for each survey segment throughout the remainder of 2016. The 20-minute online survey was conducted May 13-16, 2016, of 1,000 adults 25 and over who are not unemployed or retired. A summary of the results can be found at