New CFP Board Consumer Survey Series: “Concerned Strivers” Have Higher Incomes, Find Saving Hard

First of four consumer segmentation surveys provides detailed look at Americans’ finances

By Paul Jarvis, CFP®

AreaVoices Financial Planning Blog

 A new series of consumer surveys from Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) reveals four distinct groups of Americans based on their saving patterns, including one segment that exhibits optimism about their financial futures even while wrestling with the sharp competing interests of saving monthly, paying down debt and meeting retirement goals.

The survey series released by CFP Board explored the saving habits of 1,000 working Americans over 25 years old and determined there are four demographics of Americans based on their saving patterns: Concerned Strivers, Stretched Worriers, Confident Savers and Tentative Savers. CFP Board will be releasing three additional reports on the other survey segments throughout the remainder of 2016.

The group, identified as “Concerned Strivers,” consists of Americans in their mid-to-late 30s with above-average incomes and relative optimism about their future financial security, yet they struggle to save money to achieve their financial goals.

Click here to view an infographic of the survey findings for this consumer segment.

The demands of balancing work life, family life and one’s financial life can be, at times, hard to manage but you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a defined set of priorities that you want to accomplish in your financial life?
  • Do you clearly adjust these goals as your resources change?
  • Have you assessed your resources and identified which of your goals can be reasonably accomplished now?
  • Do you have a specific way to prioritize and discuss changes in the future with those you love?

Think about your answers to these questions and focus on what you can control in your financial life.

Here are some tips for Concerned Strivers to gain control and build financial confidence:

  • Review, reduce and budget household expenses: Set some time aside to categorize your monthly expenses and make a budget that the family can stick with. Ask: are expenses needs or wants? Expenses such as food, clothing and transportation – while necessary – provide some wiggle room in terms of what must be spent on these items. Consider implementing a “family challenge” to get your kids involved to make budgeting and cost-cutting fun.
  • Learn to say “yes” to yourself by saying “no” to your children: As any parent knows, it is tough to deny children what they think they absolutely must have. Yes, you want to give your kids the best start in life that you possibly can, but by saying “no” to your child’s request for something they want, you’ll be able to make larger contributions to your retirement savings. Remember that your children can borrow for their education, whereas your ability to borrow money for retirement is very limited.
  • Reduce credit card reliance: Concerned Strivers report the highest angst about credit card debt among the demographic segments in the CFP Board survey. While credit cards are convenient, it’s important to only use them for financing purchases you cannot pay for immediately and will be able to pay off in a relatively short amount of time.

Concerned Strivers, or those generally interested in reorienting their financial mindset, should consider speaking with a CFP® professional, who can help identify the necessary steps to reach long-term financial goals and objectives.

The consumer surveys explored the saving habits of 1,000 working Americans over 25 years old, collected during a 20-minute online survey conducted May 13-16, 2016. A summary of the overall survey results can be found at

ABOUT Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis is a CFP Board Ambassador and leads United Capital’s office in Fargo. See more at