SURVEY SAYS: Peer Influence on Savings Behavior

We recently wrote about how peer collaboration and comparison could influence retirement plan participants to improve savings behavior.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, would knowing the practices of your peers have an influence on you?

Nearly half (48.2%) of respondents are age 55 or older, and nearly one-third (32.1%) are between 45 and 54. Sixteen percent of respondents fall into the 35 to 44 age group, and nearly 4% are ages 25 to 34.

Four in ten responding readers indicated that if given information about the savings rate and investment choices of those in their age group that are on track for a secure retirement, it would probably not have any influence on their savings rate and investment choices because they already feel they are on track for a secure retirement. However, 17.9% said that information would influence their savings rate and investment choices, 5.4% reported it may influence savings rate, but not investment choices and 16.1% indicated it would influence their investment choices, but not savings rate. Slightly more than 21% said given that information, it would not influence their savings rate and investment choices.

Responding readers were nearly evenly split on whether they would like the opportunity to discuss ideas for addressing their savings challenges with others in their age group—48% said yes and 52% said no.

Most of the respondents who chose to make comments about peer influence on savings behavior seem to be in the “no peer pressure” camp. However, several shared why peer influence is helpful, and one reader told the story of how a peer influenced him/her. One reader indicated he/she hopes to be an influence on peers, and another pointed out that there are a lot more factors for determining who is a peer than age. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I listen to my financial planner more than my peers.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!


After listening to 5 sisters growing up, why should I care what others think? What they do might be good for them, but, I don't control them and they don't control me. I'm not a lemming. In fact, I don't buy the "do what the crowd is doing." Life is what it is. I can only control a small portion.

Apparently your mother never said to you; "If they all jumped off a bridge..."

I hope I am an influence to my peers, friends and fellow employees. I let people know that our plan allows me to increase my savings on a partial percentage basis. I have reminders on my calendar to increase 0.25% every 2 months. With such a small increase, it isn't even noticeable on your paycheck, and who in the world would be sad if they have saved too much? People forget these little options available within their plans can make a long term impact - talking about it helps other people know what they can do.

All these years, I was told to not cave into peer pressure.

more help on investment choices when I was younger would have been a great help; more choices then also would have been great.

I pretty much know what my peers, both by age and by industry, are saving for retirement, and the low numbers scare me for the future. With regard to my own saving, I do as much as I am able, and have a good idea of what I should be doing. I'm not there yet, but working toward it.

Although peers can have similarities such as age, time when to stop working, geographic s, etc...their actual investment parameters, ability to tolerant changes are unique to them and their investment/savings plan/portfolio should be designed that way.

Peer group influence can be very powerful, especially in areas in which people feel insecure. May not be as powerful a motivator among early career folks, but I believe more so as people progress through mid and late careers.

I am long past the age where what my peers think will influence the way I behave.

I listen to my financial planner more than my peers.

Verbatim (cont.)

Too often, people who *think* they know everything try to influence others, which can often be to the detriment of others. If we only had good role models, I'd be all in favor of peer influence. But unfortunately, in our society, often the loudest are not necessarily the brightest.

I am fortunate to have a good understanding of financial markets, coupled with training as a retirement actuary. I know what I need to save, and how to invest to adequately provide for my retirement needs.

Instead of "keeping up with the Jones" we need less spending/more savings or "gettin' down with the Smiths"!

It is a bit like a question my parents would ask - If Tommy jumped off a bridge, would you? - However, If Tommy were making money I would jump after him!!

Pre-pay retirement by contributing the max to your 401(k) plan.

I have been an advocate of IRA's and retirement plans for a very long time. I am not challenged to save. With that said, I would like the opportunity to discuss why others do not save enough. I really do not want my tax dollars supporting those who did not save enough because they were living over their means for many years often on credit.

I might be influenced if I was also given information about how well they were doing in their savings efforts and growing their funds.

If everyone is "doing something" you probably should not follow along. The world reacts too immediately and too selfishly to events. Educate yourself and prepare for your own needs, not someone else's.

I think I'm an example of this. I still remember talking to a co-worker early in my career (25+ years ago) and him telling me he was saving 15% in the 401k plan, at that time 15% was the maximum deferral our plan allowed. I remember thinking what a smart idea that was and aspired to do the same as soon as I could afford it. I know it influenced me; I started "auto-escalating" my own deferrals before it was a thing, until I maxed out at the 402(g) limit and am now doing catch-up contributions in addition. I also got my spouse to do the same. We're looking forward to our retirement.

Info on peer savings behavior might not influence *my* behavior, but it would be interesting to see if I differ. Having that information would allow me to assess why my approach is different, and then analyze whether or not that difference is appropriate.

Verbatim (cont.)

Not only is it helpful to see how similarly situated people manage things to achieve the goals you're striving for, you also reap the benefits of collaboration & have those "ah-ha!" moments where a solution or issue suddenly makes sense for the first time & you examine things from angles previously unexplored.

I already defer the maximum allowed by law. I cannot quite live on what's left; so I'm getting lots of practice. I just had a conference with my advisor; we made conservative adjustments and a 6 month review appointment. Do I feel secure? Hell, no. Do I think my peers know more than my investment counselor and I do? Perhaps, but I'd be uncomfortable to see anyone looking to *me* as a role model.

It would only influence me if they are peers whom I respect.

we are constantly told by new hires that they don't know where to begin with their investment choices in their 401(k) plan and they want to know what we're doing.

My savings behavior is determined by my economic situation. Don't care how others in my age group are managing their retirement outcomes. Instead, I'd rather work on how much can I contribute to my retirement accounts and figure out how to maximize the earning on that money with the lowest risk possible. If a 20 year old has a great solution, I'll listen/research!

We feel we are on track, but we would love to know how we compare to others. It never ceases to amaze me to see people spend so much money, and smart ones too! They either aren't saving as much as we are, or they have a hidden income source I'm not aware of. We decided we'd rather live well within our means now, so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor later, hopefully with an early retirement!

I save 30% per paycheck into my 401(k), which seems like a lot when I survey my friends. Of course, some of them are younger than me and have kids in college and other bills that I don't have. I am lucky to be able to save that much.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.