To some extent, Americans have grown up with expectations of how their lives will go. At 18, you quit high school and then choose a job or go to college. At 22, you should settle for a clear career plan, consider a family, and contribute to yours 401k. At 30, you have a comfortable savings, your first home and life are all figured out.
Part of growing up is realizing that your life has no set schedule and a thousand factors can affect when and if you hit certain milestones. By your late twenties, you figured out that 30 isn't a magic number either. However, media pressures and what our peers achieve can make us feel like we are unable to keep up and even lead to questionable financial decisions. So we set out to find out where Americans feel like they are falling behind in life.
We surveyed 1,500 Americans under peer pressure and found:
The most common response for Americans who feel retarded was that they weren't saving enough for retirement.
Americans feel more behind on financial goals like career success and financial stability than they do on goals in life like finding a partner and starting a family.
75% of Americans don't discuss their financial health and details with their friends.
Americans feel behind their peers in saving for retirement
Concerns about retirement assets have been the number one concern for the 40 percent of Americans who feel they are falling behind in life. Retirement is one of the biggest investments of a lifetime, and it often takes decades to prepare for it. Feelings of falling behind in retirement assets can be compounded as COVID-19 caused layoffs, loss of unemployment benefits, and financial troubles that led many to dive into their savings.
Saving for retirement is paramount for those 45 to 54 years old, with 43 percent of whom said they felt behind their savings goals. This is not a big surprise retirement Old age starts at 66 and there are only a decade or two left to fill your nest egg.
In addition, 66 percent of those who feel they are behind on retirement savings are women. Our survey found that women are more likely than men to feel like their peers, although women and men are relatively equal when it comes to discussing personal finances with friends.
Americans feel more lagging behind on financial goals than they do on relationship goals
All age groups were far more concerned about their financial goals and wellbeing than about milestones in their relationship. This is especially interesting when you consider that only 25 percent of Americans discuss their financial status with friends, while their coworkers' relationship status is far more visible.
According to our study, only 17 percent of Americans who feel behind their peers are concerned about finding a life partner. Even fewer are concerned about starting a family. While demographics under 30 tended to lag behind relationship goals, financial goals still had a higher priority.
While all age groups prioritize financial goals, these specific needs change with age. As the youngest group with the lowest income expectationsNo wonder that 14.8 percent of Gen Z feel they are struggling for financial stability. Millennials feel more secure in their financial well-being and seem to be looking for their next investment – buy a house. This group had the lowest consensus rate, but 12.9 percent of Millennials agree they are lagging behind on home ownership.
Not only do older populations compare less with their peers, but they also have the same financial priority – saving for retirement. Gen X is most concerned about their savings. 15 percent believe that they stand behind their colleagues. With less than a decade to retire, baby boomers are equally concerned at 14.9 percent.
75% of Americans don't share their financial situation with friends
While Americans may compare their finances to those of their peers, the majority of adults do not discuss money issues. Of those open to talking about money, 11 percent have shared their salary – a relatively popular topic among Gen Xers, with 23 percent speaking for conversation.
On the other hand, only six percent of Americans share theirs Credit score. This could be partly because of that 43 percent of Americans haven't had their credit checks in over a year.
When adults aren't talking about their financial situation, it's likely that the peer pressure so many feel is due more to time anxiety than to actual, documented success. There is a belief that adults should reach certain milestones at certain stages in life, and there is a sense of fear when we realize the deadline is approaching.
This reinforces the expectation that we shouldn't discuss our finances either because we don't want to feel like we're bragging or because we're not comfortable sharing our real or perceived struggles. In fact, the taboo is so strong that in 34 percent Of the couples living together, at least one partner does not know how much the other earns.
The good thing is that there is no real schedule for our lives. There may be averages or social expectations, but meeting or missing these “due dates” does not define success and certainly does not say anything about individual value.
Comparing yourself to your peers is natural, but it becomes a problem when the feeling of falling back into the realm of time anxiety shifts. The best thing you can do to control your financial success is budget well and focus on your own success while reducing the influence of others. While it may feel overwhelming, here are some great ways to manage your time anxiety and take control of your own timeline.
Swell: CNBC | Statistics Office | Pew Research Center | Senior life | Ness Labs | loyalty | NAR
This study consisted of two survey questions carried out using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no fewer than 1,500 completed answers per question. Stratification weighting was used to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in July 2020.