Americans are feeling more financially secure today compared to 10 years ago when the economy was still suffering from the Great Recession, but twice as many have become more risk averse with their finances, according to a new report from Northwestern Mutual.
The report, dubbed the Planning & Progress Study, compares the survey responses of Americans 25 and older in 2009 to those 35 and older today with the results weighted to census targets for education, age and gender, race and ethnicity, geographic region and household income. The findings are based on interviews with close to 1,300 people, but they are not the same individuals interviewed 10 years ago.
Seventy-one percent of interviewees feel financially secure today versus 47% in 2009. Even more (74%) said they’re carrying less debt and more frugal with their spending, but slightly more than one-third have become less comfortable taking financial risks and taking risks with their health care coverage.
“In many ways, 20009 feels like ancient history, but the imprint that period left is still visible in the data we collected in 2019,” said Emily Holbrook, director of planning at Northwestern Mutual, in a statement.
“The people we surveyed today are more financially stable than they were 10 years ago … presumably more advanced in their careers and have witnessed the longest bull run in the history of the stock market. And yet they’ve become more cautious and diligent about their finances. … We suspect there’s some financial trauma mixed in, too.”
Sixty-six percent of interviewees have set specific goals for the next five to 10 years versus 57% in 2009.
Despite the economic recovery since the Great Recession and long-term bull market, Americans are less optimistic today about the future. Although more than half (54%) believe the “American Dream” is still attainable for most, that’s down from 58% in 2009 in the throes of the recession, and 73% believe a person can accomplish anything they put their mind to versus 82% in 2009.