Nearly 40% of respondents don’t have a financial plan, a survey conducted for Genworth in December found. However, the most common reason respondents gave for not having a plan wasn’t laziness or not knowing where to begin.
Over 30% of people who said they didn’t have a financial plan said it was because they didn’t have enough money. Just 10% of respondents said they didn’t have a plan because they didn’t have time or were procrastinating; 5% said they didn’t know how to plan.
There are two reasons for that line of thinking, Pam Nelson, vice president of customer insights for Genworth, told AdvisorOne on Thursday. “Some people think they don’t have enough extra money to warrant a plan. Some don’t have enough, period, to have a plan and work with an advisor.”
Many people, Nelson said, are “simply trying to pay their bills. They’re living paycheck to paycheck.”
Among respondents who didn’t have a plan, unsurprisingly, the majority aren’t confident about their financial future. However, among those who do have a financial plan, 40% of people with a financial plan say they still don’t feel confident about their financial future. Respondents’ biggest retirement fear by far was not having enough money to live comfortably (36%), while 18% said outliving their savings was their biggest fear.
Three-quarters of respondents 60 and older said they felt confident about their financial future, and nearly two-thirds of the youngest group agreed. Less than 60% of the 40-59-year-olds reported the same level of confidence.
The middle age group has “a lot of concerns at that moment,” Nelson said. “They’re paying for education for their kids. They’re worried they haven’t saved enough. They’re in ‘What do I do?’ mode.” The older group, on the other hand, has been through it all before, she said.
The most important aspects of financial planning, more than having an advisor or a written plan, are keeping a budget and establishing clear financial and retirement goals. Most respondents said they were compelled to create a financial plan just by reaching a certain age. Fewer than 10% of respondents said typical triggers like changing jobs or getting married prompted them to create a financial plan.
Interestingly, the second most common answer for what compelled respondents to create a financial plan was “nothing”; 16% of respondents said they were not planning on establishing a financial plan.
Older respondents were more likely to rate having an advisor and frequent communications with him or her as important to their financial plan. Less than a quarter of people under 39 and just 20% of people between 40 and 59 said having an advisor was important to their plan, compared with 31% of people over 60.
Keeping a budget was the most important element of planning to each age group, but was more important to those under 39. Similarly, 27% of that age group said keeping a written financial plan was most important, compared with 22% of those between 40 and 59, and 21% of those over 60.
The survey also asked respondents about the financial example their parents set for them as children. Most agreed that their parents set a good example regarding financial planning. While two-thirds of respondents with a financial plan said their parents were a good example, more than half of those without a plan said the same.
The company polled more than 1,000 adults with at least $50,000 in annual income for its “Psychology of Financial Planning” survey.