Data and Research

Individuals Want to Address Current Financial Challenges

A study finds budgeting, managing credit card debt, and paying off student loans were all higher financial priorities for 100,000 individuals profiled.

By Rebecca Moore | January 07, 2016
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Budgeting is the top financial goal of individuals overall; men are exceedingly more likely to prioritize investing as a financial goal than women; 20-somethings value saving for major expenses; and parents may be putting their family’s needs ahead of their own, a study finds.

LearnVest, a financial education and planning provider, looked at the profiles of more than 100,000 individuals signing up for LearnVest from April to October of 2015, and found that across key demographic segments—age, gender, geography—budgeting was the top financial goal, capturing 32% of total responses.

Surprisingly, individuals ages 35 to 44 selected budgeting as a top financial goal more so than younger individuals. The study found better money habits and smarter financial organization are the desired payoffs of an effective budgeting strategy.

Other top financial goals included managing credit card debt (24%), saving for a major expense (14%) and paying off student loans (10%), all ranking higher than saving for retirement (8%) or investing (3%). However, the study found men are five times more likely than women to choose investing as their top goal—no matter their age.

Households with children had a higher propensity to select budgeting as their top financial priority compared to households without children. Those with children were 45% more likely to select budgeting as their top goal. For this segment of respondents, the increased focus on budgeting results in a decreased focus on retirement (6%).

The study suggests households with children are putting family needs, such as saving for children’s college education and caring for aging parents, ahead of their own. A recent survey by RBC Wealth Management-U.S. found nearly half of Americans (49%) think helping their children pay for their education is more important than saving for their own retirement. 

NEXT: Long-term plans should account for current priorities