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Money mindsets: 8 trends in people’s thoughts about their personal finances

Money mindsets: 8 trends in people’s thoughts about their personal finances

If you’ve been worrying about your personal finances, you’re not alone. In fact, the vast majority of people feel the same way. But you might not have guessed that, because according to our research, only 24% of people feel comfortable talking to their friends about their finances—and only 41% would talk about it with their own parents.

With money being so socially taboo, but also so top-of-mind for many people, we decided to use SurveyMonkey Audience to cast more light on people’s perceptions on things like wealth and investment and their personal experiences when it comes to money management. 

Over 750 people from all over the country shared their thoughts, revealing some trends that weren’t very surprising—and some that were. Here are the top 8 takeaways. 

1.Millennials aren’t the only ones feeling a little overwhelmed. Millennial cliches often characterize younger people as anxious and debt-ridden, living at home to save on rent. Our research didn’t exactly disprove that, but we did find that millennials aren’t the only ones: An equal proportion (~38%) of people from every age group except those over 60 said they were “not very confident” in their current financial security.

When we asked respondents to describe their personal finances in 3 words, these were the results.

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2. For many people, taking college loans doesn’t seem “worth it.” One specific cause of financial anxiety—student loans—is fairly widespread. 47% of respondents had taken a loan, and of those that did, only 43% believed that taking the loan was justified. Younger respondents were especially dissatisfied, with only 29% saying so.

3. Having an annual salary of 400k or more is what most people deem “rich.” We presented our respondents with a variety of different salaries ranging from 60k to 10 million dollars per year. 70% of them said that they consider people making anything over 400k per year to be wealthy.

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4. Financial literacy seems to go hand in hand with access to good jobs . People from higher-income households were about 50% more likely to have grown up in a family where saving money was emphasized.

5. People put less stock in stocks. Asked to choose between a gift of real estate or stocks of equal value, twice as many people chose real estate as an index fund of public stocks.

6. In tech—but not Facebook—do consumers trust. We asked people to select the choose the company they’d most like to have stocks in, from a list of 10 public businesses. Apple was most popular with 32%, followed by Google’s parent company Alphabet (25%) and then Disney (18%). Facebook was last, with less than 2%.

According to expert investors, Apple and Alphabet are indeed good betsbut so is Facebook, while Disney is less talked about. Regardless of its profitability potential, it seems like many consumers have been influenced by the company’s bad press. An older, broadly-loved brand like Disney’s might seem more appealing by comparison.

7. When it comes to money, people like to keep their details very, very private. 68% of people would talk about their personal finances with a significant other, but beyond that, they’re tight-lipped. Fewer than 50% of people would discuss their finances with parents, siblings, friends, or even a professional advisor.

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8. In managing finances, most people start young and hope to finish young. 57% of people got their first credit card before the age of 22, and only 13% were older than 25. When asked what age they hoped to retire, 65% of people (appropriately) said they hoped to retire by the age of 65. They’re probably on the right track: the average retirement age in the U.S. is around 63, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

One of the coolest things about surveys is that they give you insight into people's authentic perspectives—even on topics they might not feel comfortable talking about with their families and friends. Clearly, financial planning is an area of some stress and a lot of focus for most people. The more we understand about it, the easier it will be to address it.