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52% of U.S. Investors Will Sacrifice to Reach Monetary Goals

52% of U.S. Investors Will Sacrifice to Reach Monetary Goals

Story Highlights

  • 78% of investors say they are disciplined about reaching financial goals
  • Investors most willing to work longer or delay replacing cars
  • They are least willing to make changes when it comes to their children

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly eight in 10 non-retired U.S. investors, 78%, say they are disciplined about achieving their financial goals, yet just 14% consider themselves "extremely disciplined." As such, over half of investors expect that they will have to make sacrifices in order to reach their personal financial objectives, including 9% who expect to give up "a lot" and 43% a "fair amount."

Non-Retired Investors' Views of Achieving Their Financial Goals
How disciplined are you about achieving your financial goals?
Extremely disciplined Fairly disciplined Not too disciplined Not disciplined at all
% % % %
14 64 20 2
Wells Fargo/Gallup Aug. 13-20, 2018

Non-Retired Investors' Expectation of Sacrifice to Achieve Goals
How much do you expect to have to change or give up in life in order to achieve your financial goals?
A lot A fair amount Only a little Nothing
% % % %
9 43 42 6
Wells Fargo/Fallup Aug. 13-20, 2018

Financial sacrifice is strongly related to investors' level of financial discipline. One-third of those who describe themselves as extremely disciplined (32%) expect to have to give up "a lot" or "fair amount" to achieve their goals, but this increases to 50% among the "fairly" disciplined and 67% among those "not too" or "not at all" disciplined.

The third-quarter Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index survey, conducted Aug. 13-20, gauged investors' discipline and appetites for making financial sacrifices in the interest of reaching their financial goals. Gallup and Wells Fargo define U.S. investors as adults with $10,000 or more invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, either within or outside of a retirement savings account.

When asked what actions they are likely to take, or have already taken in order to attain their goals, investors in their working years are most willing to delay replacing their cars or work more years than they'd otherwise prefer. Eighty-one percent of non-retired investors are likely to (39%), or already are (42%) keeping their cars longer and 70% are working longer (9%) or expect to do so (61%).

Majorities of non-retired investors also plan to, or already are, canceling their television cable or satellite subscription (65%), cutting back sharply on daily living expenses like food, clothing or entertainment (62%), getting a cheaper cellphone plan (57%), cutting back on vacations (53%) and staying in a job they do not like (52%).

Bar chart showing 11 different actions that could help non-retired investors achieve their financial goals.

Non-retired investors are least willing to make changes when it comes to their children -- either not saving for a child's education or changing when or how many children they have -- 73% indicate they are unlikely to do either.

Fewer than half of investors anticipate getting a second job (32%) and downsizing to a smaller home (42%). Among all of the possible sacrifices measured, investors have already been proactive in doing two more than all others -- 42% have held onto their cars longer and 45% have canceled their cable television subscriptions. Although it is still a sacrifice, in this day and age where technological advances have made cutting the cable cord easier, it is perhaps less of a sacrifice than it was in the past to give up cable or satellite television.

Bottom Line

Most non-retired investors consider themselves to be at least fairly disciplined about achieving their financial goals. And while discipline may go hand-in-hand with making sacrifices, a slim majority nonetheless anticipate having to make more sacrifices on their way to retirement. The areas they are most likely to sacrifice are those that affect their careers (working longer than they would like to or staying in a career they do not like) and lifestyles (holding onto cars longer, cutting back on household expenses, television and cellphones). But they are much less willing to make sacrifices that would affect their family life -- either delaying having children, having a smaller family or not saving for their child's education.

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