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News Release

New CFP Board Consumer Survey Series: “Concerned Strivers” Have Higher Incomes, Find Saving Hard

September 28, 2016

First of four consumer segmentation surveys provides detailed look at Americans’ finances

A new series of consumer surveys from Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) reveals four distinct groups of Americans based on their saving patterns, including one segment that exhibits optimism about their financial futures even while wrestling with the sharp competing interests of saving monthly, paying down debt and meeting retirement goals.

The survey series released by CFP Board explored the saving habits of 1,000 working Americans over 25 years old and determined there are four demographics of Americans based on their saving patterns: Concerned Strivers, Stretched Worriers, Confident Savers and Tentative Savers. CFP Board will be releasing three additional reports on the other survey segments throughout the remainder of 2016.

The group, identified as “Concerned Strivers,” consists of Americans in their mid-to-late 30s with above-average incomes and relative optimism about their future financial security, yet they struggle to save money to achieve their financial goals.

Click here to view an infographic of the survey findings for this consumer segment.

“The Concerned Striver has many day-to-day challenges that make it hard for them to save with any regularity,” said CFP Board Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP®. “Concerned Strivers feel like they can deal with the immediate needs of their families, but may neglect saving for their own future. They have good intentions, adequate resources and employer-sponsored retirement plans, yet they feel they are unable to capitalize on these financial strengths.”

In her latest contribution to, Blayney offers these tips for Concerned Strivers to build financial confidence: 

  • Review, reduce and budget household expenses: Set some time aside to categorize your monthly expenses and make a budget that the family can stick with. Ask: are expenses needs or wants? Expenses such as food, clothing and transportation – while necessary – provide some wiggle room in terms of what must be spent on these items. Consider implementing a “family challenge” to get your kids involved to make budgeting and cost-cutting fun.
  • Learn to say “yes” to yourself by saying “no” to your children: As any parent knows, it is tough to deny children what they think they absolutely must have. Yes, you want to give your kids the best start in life that you possibly can, but by saying “no” to your child’s request for something they want, you’ll be able to make larger contributions to your retirement savings. Remember that your children can borrow for their education, whereas your ability to borrow money for retirement is very limited.
  • Reduce credit card reliance: Concerned Strivers report the highest angst about credit card debt among the demographic segments in the CFP Board survey. While credit cards are convenient, it’s important to only use them for financing purchases you cannot pay for immediately and will be able to pay off in a relatively short amount of time.