Planning and Progress 2013 - Financial Planning Obstacles 

Northwestern Mutual sponsored a study exploring the state of planning in America today that provides unique insights into people’s current attitudes and behaviors toward money, goal-setting and priorities. The study surveyed more than 1,500 financial planningAmericans aged 25 or older. (Conducted 2013)

The study showed that more than six in ten (63%) Americans say their financial planning needs improvement; and that the No. 1 obstacle is not having enough time (24%).

Download Planning and Progress 2013 – Financial Planning Obstacles

Time-Strained America

The majority of Americans (69%) say the pace of society makes it harder for them to stick with long-term goals.

  • More than one in four (26%) people say they either often or always feel too busy to think about long-term goals.
  • Additionally, nearly one in three (31%) say they find the level of immediacy of society today – characterized by 24/7 connectivity and accessibility – to be distracting.

Lack of Financial Plan

lack of time

The study showed that half of all Americans have no financial plan in place, and when asked to specify what type of planners they are:

  • 40% described themselves as “Informal,” meaning they have a general sense of their goals and how to meet them, but no specific plan in place.

  • An additional 9% say they are “Non-Planners,” meaning they neither have specific goals nor specific plans of any kind.

  • One in three (34%) people describe themselves as “Disciplined,” meaning they know their goals and have a plan in place, but deviate at times because they don’t always stay on top of them.

  • Just 16% say they are “Highly Disciplined,” meaning they know their goals, have a plan in place to meet them, and rarely deviate.

Gen Y Shows More Discipline

When it comes to financial planning:

  • Gen Y (ages 25-32) may be the most disciplined generation with 24% saying they are “Highly Disciplined” planners. This is a 50% increase over the full-sample average (16%).

  • The discrepancy is even greater when comparing Generation Y (ages 25-32) to Baby Boomers (ages 47-66), among which only 14% are “Highly Disciplined.”

Download Financial Planning Needs Improvement infographic
Download Lack of Timeinfographic