A recent YouGov survey asked 1,000 adult US citizens about their financial priorities, who they turn to for financial advice, their feelings about money and how their parents’ approach to finances could affect theirs. The survey found that women and adults under 30 are less likely to invest their money and slightly more likely to feel anxious about their personal finances.
About two in five American adults (43%) say they have invested money in the stock market, either individually or jointly with their spouse. Men (47%) are more likely than women (40%) to say they have invested money in stocks. There’s also a significant age gap here: while only 33% of adults under 30 have funds invested in the stock market, 54% of those 65 and older do.
Family members with annual incomes of $100,000 or more are the most likely to invest, at 85%, compared to 46% for family members with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000, and 27% for people whose family income is less than $50,000.
Men are more likely than women to prioritize investments; more women prioritize savings. Men (62%) are more likely than women (55%) to say investing is somewhat or very important to them right now in terms of what they do with their money. Almost all women (94%) say saving money is somewhat or very important to them right now, a view shared by 85% of men. Men and women are equally likely to say spending their money is important to them right now, at 50% and 47%, respectively. They are also likely to see giving as an important part of financial status: 46% of men say this, compared to 51% of women.
When asked what is the most important thing they need to do with their money right now, women (78%) are much more likely than men (58%) to say saving. Men (24%) are twice as likely as women (11%) to say investing is their top priority.
Although saving is the top financial priority for most Americans, some might be interested in investing but face obstacles.
The most common reason people give for not investing is “I don’t have the funds to invest,” at 45%. This is cited as a reason by almost half (49%) of women who do not invest, as well as 41% of men who do not invest. Another reason often given by non-investors is that investing seems too risky. Among Americans who don’t invest, one-third (32%) of women and 29% of men say this is true for them. Many — including 30% of women and 24% of men — say it’s because they don’t know enough about investing to participate. Of the women who don’t invest, 31% say it’s because they feel safer saving their money than investing. A smaller percentage of men who do not invest (23%) share this concern.
But investing isn’t the only way people can achieve their financial goals, which 68% of Americans say they have. Those who own stocks (82%) are more likely than those who don’t (56%) to say they have financial goals. Women (71%) are slightly more likely than men (64%) to report having financial goals.
Among Americans who have financial goals, 64% are somewhat or very confident in their ability to achieve them. Men (68%) are more likely than women (60%) to be confident about achieving their financial goals.
Men and women are equally likely to say they feel generally confident in making financial decisions, at 73% and 71%, respectively.
Majorities in all age groups say they feel somewhat or very confident in making financial decisions. Americans 65 or older are the most likely to express confidence, at 82%. Among adults under 30, 64% say they feel confident in their financial decisions, although 27% say they are not very or not at all confident about it.
But despite reasonably high confidence levels, most Americans (62%) experience anxiety about their personal finances, with 21% saying they are very worried about it. Women (66%) are more likely than men (58%) to say they are anxious about their personal finances.
Among Americans who are part of a family earning less than $50,000 a year, 65% say they are worried about their personal finances, with 27% saying they are very anxious. But high earners aren’t immune to financial anxiety: 61% of Americans with household incomes of $100,000 or more say they’re anxious about their personal finances.
For many people, their financial savvy started at home. Almost half (46%) say their parents taught them how to manage their personal finances.
How people perceive their parents’ level of financial confidence could be related to how confident a person is in managing their own finances. Of the 56% of Americans who said they think their parents feel or feel confident making financial decisions, 81% say they also feel quite confident making financial decisions. Of the 24% who say their own parents were not very or not at all confident, fewer (66%) express confidence in their own financial savvy.
Likewise, parents with financial anxiety may be more likely to raise children who end up experiencing increased financial anxiety. Of the 49% of Americans who say they believe their parents were or are anxious about their finances, 75% say they are also very or somewhat anxious about their personal finances. American adults who say their parents were not very or not at all anxious (30% of Americans) are less likely to experience financial anxiety themselves, at 52%.
Parents aren’t the only source of financial lessons. One in five Americans (21%) say they learned how to manage their personal finances from other family members, and 20% say “nobody” taught them this. A similar percentage (19%) acquired their knowledge from the internet and online research, 16% learned from a current or former partner and 15% turned to a financial advisor.
As for who they now turn to for financial advice, the most common response is “my partner,” at 28%. Women (31%) are more likely than men (24%) to say they turn to a partner for financial advice. 22% of Americans say they consult a financial advisor and 21% turn to the Internet or “no one”. One in five people, including 23% women and 16% men, turn to their parents.
Who do Americans feel comfortable discussing their finances with? Majorities say they would be comfortable discussing it with their partner (66%), their bank (61%), a financial advisor (59%) and their immediate family (56%). Half are comfortable talking about it with their parents, with men (54%) more likely than women to say so (46%).
Less than half (47%) are comfortable discussing their personal finances with close friends, although men (50%) are more likely than women (44%) to say they are quite or very comfortable with it. About one in five Americans (22%) are comfortable discussing their financial situation with colleagues, and 15% would be comfortable discussing this topic with a stranger.
In addition, respondents were able to share their financial goals for the year. Many wrote that they wanted to pay off credit card debt or medical bills, while others shared plans for building up their savings. Some have ambitions to create more income for themselves, and others focus on long-term investments and buying property.
— Linley Sanders, Taylor Orth and Carl Bialik contributed to this article.
Related: After Its Recent Crash, Few Americans See Cryptocurrency as a Good Investment
This survey was conducted July 27-29, 2022 among 1,000 adult US citizens. Learn more about the methodology and data from this YouGov poll.
Image: Adobe Stock (Monkey Business)
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