Good news: 9 out of 10 households in the United States engage in some form of financial planning, according to a 2013 study. The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) sponsored a research study to better understand the state of financial planning in America. It categorized households into four groups, based on its findings.
The first group, “comprehensive planners,” take a methodical approach to financial planning and use a financial professional with fiduciary accountability, such as a CFP professional or a Registered Investment Advisor to help prepare such a plan. They made up 19 percent of American households surveyed.
The second group, “basic planners,” made up 38 percent of those surveyed. This group has a plan for one or more goals, such as retirement or college savings, but it is not a comprehensive plan that incorporates all their goals.
The third group consists of “limited planners.” Similar to basic planners, they may have a household budget or a savings goal, but not both. This group represented 33 percent of those surveyed.
Finally, the “non-planners” tend to avoid financial planning altogether and do not save or budget. They represent just 10 percent of households. They are also the families who had the most difficulty managing their finances and paying off credit card debt.
The most compelling finding from this research is that those who did the more comprehensive planning were more prepared financially and more effective at meeting their goals around savings, investing and debt management.
When it comes to your finances and retirement, what motivates you to plan? Perhaps it’s the dream to buy a beach front home or take a cruise every summer. Alternatively, perhaps it’s the fear of running out of money and living your golden years in poverty. Whatever your motivation to do some level of planning, this recent study reinforces the idea that doing something is better than doing nothing.