Amid a year filled with economic turmoil and a holiday season racking up credit card bills, Americans considering financial resolutions in the New Year are in good company, a new study suggests.
When looking back on 2022, nearly 9 in 10 (88%) Americans acknowledge room for improvement in their overall financial wellness and 71% say they are likely to set financial goals in 2023, according to new data from Lincoln Financial Group’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker.
The firm also found that consumers are seeking stability and preparedness in today’s uncertain economic environment. With ongoing inflation and market volatility, 56% of respondents cited the three Ps of protection, planning or preparedness as most important to them during times of economic uncertainty. Of this group, 29% cited protection and making sure they are protected from health and financial risks as most important, while 26% cited planning and preparedness and having a plan or strategy to deal with difference scenarios and future events.
Additional findings show that, while recession fears are widespread, inflation has been the top concern in rotation for all of 2022, finishing the year with 71% of Americans saying they’re concerned about it, up from 64% in the first quarter. Having enough income in retirement maintained the No. 2 spot, with the level of worry increasing from 52% in the first quarter to 59% in the fourth quarter.
When it comes to thinking about their finances, respondents indicated that they have the greatest interest in protecting their family (39%), followed by their income (26%), health (16%) and retirement savings (15%).
Not surprisingly, those who work with financial professionals are more likely to prioritize protection of retirement savings. In this case, of those U.S. adults who work with a professional, 26% indicated that protecting retirement savings was the most important item to protect financially, compared to only 10% of adults who do not work with a financial professional who said the same.
Overall, when asked which most closely matches what “financial protection” means to them, paying for basic living expenses was the No. 1 item at 40%, following by having enough money for a comfortable retirement (31%) and making sure their family is financially taken care of if something happened to them (31%). Rounding out the top 5 were being debt free (28%) and making sure they have enough saved for emergencies (27%).
Similarly, when asked about the importance of protection, most Americans (82%) across all age groups say they would like to invest their money in a solution that protects them during times of market volatility, even if it means fewer gains when the market is performing well. Moreover, 82% agree that due to rising costs elsewhere in their budgets, it is more important for them to have protection against expenses or lost income in case of an unexpected event.
“Our research reinforced the importance of financial solutions that can help consumers navigate through market cycles and protect their loved ones,” says David Berkowitz, President of the Lincoln Financial Network — the firm’s wealth management business. “People are not only concerned about having enough to pay their bills, but also saving for retirement and preparing for the unexpected. It’s important to have a well-rounded financial plan that can address those risks, protect assets and create positive outcomes for today’s families.”
Talk, Learn and Commit
Lincoln Financial recommends that consumers interested in setting financial goals can start by adding a “little TLC” (Talk, Learn and Commit).
Financial conversations play a crucial role, the firm notes. Initiate ongoing discussions to stay on track with everything from saving for retirement to paying for a long-term healthcare event, which can happen suddenly and be very costly, it adds. Also, consider talking to a financial professional who can help identify solutions that best meet individual needs, as well as drive better outcomes.
Lincoln Financial also recommends that individuals commit to maximizing workplace benefits. For those with an employer-sponsored retirement plan, contribute and get the match, if offered. The firm also suggests that individuals tap into any financial wellness tools offered at work to help provide them an accurate picture of their financial situation.
Data for the consumer sentiment study was collected in March, April, May, June, July, September, October and November 2022 using the Qualtrics survey platform. Responses were collected from a total of 1000+ U.S. adults each month.
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