African Americans Financially Optimistic Despite Lack of Planning

February 26, 2009 ( - A new survey has found African Americans to be more positive than the general population about their financial future, but admittedly not taking steps to better their circumstances.

The survey of 1,200 participants commissioned by The Smiley Group and Nationwide Insurance shows 58% of African Americans expect their household situation to be better a year from now, compared to only 30% of the general population, according to a press release. Yet, less than half say they are proactive about their financial future; three-in-four say they do not have a written financial plan; and one-in-three say they do not know where to start when it comes to personal financial planning.

The survey found African Americans are more confident than the general population in their ability to make savings and investment decisions (52% vs. 43%), but are also more likely to indicate they are struggling with credit card debt (38% vs. 32%), the press release said. Nearly half of all survey participants with children under 21 said they are very or extremely worried about being able to afford a college education for their children although only about 5% of all survey participants say they actually have a college savings plan, and only 3% cited saving for education as the most important goal.

Nearly nine out of 10 African Americans acknowledge they do not have a professional financial adviser, because they do not think they need one or think they cannot afford one. However, African American survey respondents showed a greater interest than the general population in obtaining financial planning information from seminars, a financial adviser, an insurance agent, family/friends, or television.

African American respondents admitted more frequently to taking some type of action to avoid conversations about finances (45% vs. 39% of the general population). Actions taken to avoid conversations included screening calls and cutting off a relationship.

However, of those who are not actively avoiding the topic, African Americans reported that they are talking to their children about financial matters. Three out of four parents with children under 21 say they have discussed saving money with their children, and three-fifths have done so within the past month. One-in-four have discussed saving money in the past six months.

However, of those participants with children in school, eight out of 10 acknowledge they have not researched if their school teaches about saving money.