Americans’ financial report card

In this new survey, Americans grade themselves on financial wellness. We share tips for helping them in areas where they’re getting failing grades.1

Financial wellness self-assessment

We asked U.S. adults to give themselves a letter grade representing how they did in 2019 across four financial wellness measures: sticking to a budget, managing finances, choosing workplace benefits, and saving for retirement.

Letter grades were defined as follows:

  • A – I did a great job, with very little room for improvement
  • B – I did fairly well, with some room for improvement
  • C – I did just okay, with room for improvement
  • D – I did poorly, with a lot of room for improvement
  • F – I did extremely poorly

How Americans grade themselves

Most U.S. adults don’t give themselves an A for any category. They were most likely to give themselves A's for choosing workplace benefits and least likely to give themselves A’s for sticking to a budget and saving for retirement.1

How would you grade yourself for the following in 2019? Give yourself a report card grade.

Among all U.S. adults; excludes those who responded "This does not apply to me."

Saving for retirement: A 12%, B 29%, C 26%, D 16%, F 17%. Choosing benefits at work: A 34%, B 39%, C 18%, D 6%, F 4%. Managing finances: A 16%, B 37%, C 28%, D 13%, F 7%. Sticking to a budget: A 13%, B 34%, C 30%, D 16%, F 6%.

Retirement saving needs improvement

Americans are most likely to fail themselves in saving for retirement.2 One-third of Americans gave themselves a D or an F, and only 12% gave themselves an A.3

Our 2019 Lincoln Retirement Power® Participant Study tells a similar story: 23% of participants say they don’t have a good idea of how much they should be saving for retirement.4 Of those who do, 58% are saving less than they think they should be saving, and 44% need to increase their deferrals by 5% or more to be on track.5

Help boost financial wellness

Budgeting is an effective way to manage competing financial priorities and achieve financial goals. Those who have a budget for expenses are more likely to be saving the amount they think they need to save to be on track for retirement.6

Plan sponsors can provide this budgeting worksheet to help participants create a budget. But that’s just the beginning. Most Americans need help sticking to their budgets: Only 13% gave themselves an A in this category, and nearly a quarter (23%) gave themselves a failing grade.7

Tools to manage spending and saving

For those who need support sticking to a budget, help plan sponsors offer tools to track spending, saving, and progress toward financial goals. Our personalized financial wellness tool, Lincoln WellnessPATH®, offers robust resources for setting goals and boosting overall financial health:

  • Budgeting. A powerful budgeting tool helps participants manage spending and saving, and even find extra money for financial goals.

  • Goal setting. Participants set financial goals, receive personalized action steps to help achieve them, and monitor their progress.

  • Account aggregation. Participants can pull in outside information, such as checking accounts or student loans, to get a complete picture and help manage their financial lives.

To help participants find more money to save, share these tips to reduce spending with your clients.

These financial wellness resources and budgeting tools can support your clients so they can help their participants make the grade.

1 Personal Finance Pulse, Lincoln Financial and CivicScience, 2020.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Lincoln Retirement Power® Participant Study, 2019.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid.
7 Personal Finance Pulse, Lincoln Financial and CivicScience, 2020.