Americans on track with financial planning

A new study that gauges the state of financial planning in America found that most people believe they are moving in the right direction when it comes to managing debt, paying for their children’s educations, work, spending, saving and investing in improvements.

The “Planning Perspectives Study” conducted by independent research firm Ipsos on behalf of Northwestern Mutual, asked Americans what progress they are making in their personal financial planning, according to Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president.

“At the same time, we’re looking at how this all fits against the larger backdrop of what is taking place in America today. What we’re seeing is contrasting views about the direction individuals are moving versus the nation,” he said.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they are moving in the right direction when it comes to managing debt, compared to only 11 percent that feel the same way about the nation. Three-quarters feel their children’s education is moving in the right direction compared to 19 percent that said that about the nation.

Nearly three quarters felt their careers were moving in the right direction compared to 28 percent that feel the nation is moving forward in the right direction in the area of jobs.

Three quarters of respondents said their personal spending is moving in the right direction, compared to 13 percent that said the same about the nation. Sixty-six percent feel their health and fitness is moving in the right direction compared to 23 percent that responded the nation is moving in the right direction in the area of health care.

“With this year’s election cycle keeping financial planning topics in the headlines every day, it’s encouraging to see that individuals feel they are moving in the right direction,” said Oberland. “The challenge is in staying on track over time. Throughout this study what we’ve seen suggests that most Americans are still cautious about saving and investing, and many feel financially unprepared to live long lives. All of this is evidence of just how important it is to have a solid financial plan in place when it comes to achieving long-term financial security.”

This survey was the third in a series. The first phase of the research study – Planning & Progress –  found that nearly half of Americans surveyed take an informal approach to financial planning – if they have a plan at all – and even more (59 percent) feel their financial planning needs improvement. The second phase of the research – Longevity & Preparedness – revealed that Americans included in the study are startlingly unprepared financially to live to average life expectancies.

Ipsos conducted the online survey of 1,015 Americans ages 25 or older from Feb. 2-13, 2012.


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