Path to Prosperity

The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence™

Our research

What sets apart the most confident US workers?


In 2016, we undertook our first study of the links between financial and emotional confidence, identifying the key behaviors of the most confident members of the US workforce. We learned valuable details about how modern-day stress affects financial decision making and how feelings about our long-term financial future affect day-to-day satisfaction.


In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world, adding new stresses and uncertainty about the future to the lives of millions. We wanted to know: was the confidence of the US workforce shaken?


To find out, we updated our research in 2021, seeking to identify how the most confident US workers lived their lives in the new normal — and what you can do to join (or rejoin) their ranks.




What makes our
research unique?

Our ongoing research is focused on identifying the behaviors of the most financially and emotionally confident members of the US workforce, but our work doesn’t stop there.


In addition to our observations, we’re sharing actionable insights that can help you make positive change in your life and take control of your financial future.




US workers are stressed about their lives and the world around them:


are troubled by chaos in the world


fear losing their jobs


feel overwhelmed during their day-to-day lives


feel the pace of societal change is too fast for them

What are the key priorities of US workers?


Being happy is far and away a top life priority


Having enough money to enjoy life


Staying fit and healthy


Retiring with a secure and adequate income

While both “retirement” and “having a plan” feature significantly in the financial priorities of US workers, only 1 in 4 describe themselves as very confident in being ready for retirement financially:

Despite placing a high priority on financial security, many US workers struggle with basic personal finance matters, such as budgeting, saving and planning for the future.


Nearly 40% of US workers avoid dealing with their finances because they feel overwhelmed by them


More than 1 in 3 US workers have considered delaying retirement

Are you living confidently?

We found that US workers generally fall into one of four categories when it comes to financial and emotional confidence:

Confident planners

Have it figured out when it comes to finances and staying happy and healthy.

Ambitious spenders

Enjoy demonstrating their success to others, being recognized for their accomplishments and being up on all the latest trends in technology.

Retirement realists

Place a high priority on devoting time to and caring for their families, achieving a solid work-life balance and having meaningful experiences.

Day-to-day decision-makers

Tend to lack a strong financial plan, focusing instead on day-to-day demands and having enough money to enjoy life.

Ready to chart your path to prosperity?

We found that US workers have a good grasp of their financial goals and priorities.


While many have a gap between their priorities and behaviors, Confident Planners tend to follow these model behaviors:




What you should do next

Take the quiz

Find your confidence category and take the first steps towards greater financial and emotional confidence.

Read the white paper

Learn more about the behaviors of the most confident workers.

Explore Living Confidently

Find an article, video or collection about one of your financial goals.

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The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional ConfidenceTM, 2021