Most Americans Say They Can Improve Their Relationship with Money

As we celebrate Financial Wellness Month, it is interesting to note that while 81% of Americans say they feel in control of their current financial situation, they admit to having a mix of emotions when it comes to their money.

This is according to the Relationship With Money Survey by Edward Jones, which found that only 21% of respondents feel happy when thinking about saving money. Feeling overwhelmed, anxious and, ironically, confident, tied as the second-highest emotions, all at 16%.

The survey also found a gap between respondents’ intentions and their actions when it comes to short-term vs. long-term saving and investing. When asked what they would do if someone gave them $1,000, 72% of respondents said they would allocate it to short-term goals (that which can be accomplished in less than five years). Yet, one in four respondents also reported that retirement was a top savings priority (26%).

“Whether you are strapped with student debt, saving to buy a home or trying to build an emergency fund, there are trade-offs that must be made in balancing these short-term goals and your long-term financial future, such as investing for retirement,” said Edward Jones Investment Strategist Nela Richardson.  “Without a sound financial strategy, most people tend to be reactive rather than proactive and feel like their money is controlling them.”

When it comes to spending behavior, 48% of millennials considered themselves to be savers, not spenders, compared to Gen Xers (46%) and baby boomers (56%), debunking the myth that millennials aren’t as financially focused as other generations. In fact, 75% of all millennials reported having emergency savings, compared to only 66% of Gen Xers. Concerningly, of Americans who do have emergency savings, roughly one-third (30%) do not have enough saved to cover a month’s expenses.

Nearly all Americans (92%) recognized that there is room for improvement in their financial health. One in four Americans – savers and spenders alike – expect to reduce or improve their spending habits in order to improve their financial health in the future.

Richardson said an important part of feeling confident and empowered with finances is having an accountability partner such as a family member, a friend or a financial advisor. An encouraging 74% of Americans said they are open with their family in regard to finances, with younger generations slightly more likely to talk about money compared to older generations. Still, one in 10 Americans reported they never discuss finances with their family

“For generations, many families didn’t discuss money openly, leaving people feeling like they were doing it alone. Understanding that you can improve upon your financial health and communicating your goals and plans to your family is an important step toward financial well-being,” said Richardson. “Having more open discussions with yourself and your family and your financial advisor about your overall financial goals can help relieve many of the negative emotions that Americans face when it comes to money.”

Richardson offers these tips for managing your relationship with money:

  1. Recognize what emotions you feel when it comes to saving and investing your money. For example, how does spending make you feel?  How does saving make you feel?  Being honest with yourself about these emotions can prevent you from making emotional money decisions.
  2. Develop a sound financial strategy that can help reduce stress and anxiety and make you feel empowered.
  3. Ask yourself if you need an accountability partner such as a family member or a financial advisor who can keep you on track to reaching your short- and long-term goals.

For more information, visit: www.edwardjones.com/relationship

The Edward Jones Relationship with Money Survey was conducted by Engine’s Online CARAVAN® Omnibus among a national sample of 2,007 adults comprising 1,003 men and 1,004 women 18 years of age and older from November 7-13, 2019.