Path to Prosperity
The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence™
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
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:
Having at least some guaranteed income apart from Social Security in retirement
Building savings for any reason
Having a solid, long-term plan for achieving financial objectives
Protecting your family financially if you die or are unable to work
Just keeping up with your monthly expenses
Saving for routine expenses in retirement
Saving for unexpected expenses in retirement
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:
Have it figured out when it comes to finances and staying happy and healthy.
Enjoy demonstrating their success to others, being recognized for their accomplishments and being up on all the latest trends in technology.
Place a high priority on devoting time to and caring for their families, achieving a solid work-life balance and having meaningful experiences.
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:
Learn the basics
Developing a basic understanding of financial concepts is key to being financially confident.
Live within your means
Don’t overspend and keep up with monthly expenses.
Build a comprehensive plan
Create a written plan that lays out specific goals, including savings, life insurance, and retirement health care costs.
Embrace long-term thinking
Long-term thinking can help train your habits toward delayed gratification and mitigate stress amid ups and downs of the market.
Balance protection and growth priorities
A mixture of protection and growth and financial solutions will provide you with greater confidence.
Offload your financial stress to a financial professional
A financial professional can help you understand how to reach your goals — and help you work towards them.
What you should do next
Find your confidence category and take the first steps towards greater financial and emotional confidence.
Learn more about the behaviors of the most confident workers.
Find an article, video or collection about one of your financial goals.