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CFP Board’s 4 Categories of Savers

Surprise, surprise.  According to a recent series of surveys conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, it has been determined that everyone’s saving, spending, and money priorities are different.  

The Certified Financial Planning national online survey, which was conducted in May of 2016, surveyed working individuals over the age of 25.  The participants were relatively equal in regards to income, education, and investable assets.

In a nutshell, this survey determined that some individuals seemed to have it all figured out, others worry significantly about savings, and some have no clue what money is coming in and what money is going out. I don’t know if I’d need a survey to determine this, but let’s run with it.

There was a lot of information in the survey, so I’ll put a link to it here.  

Of interest to me was the fact that the survey resulted in people falling into one of four distinct categories of savers. These groups were labeled as follows: 

1. Concerned Strivers
2. Confident Savers
3. Stretched Worriers
4. Tentative Savers


•    Generally optimistic about their financial future
•    Can feel stretched thin when it comes to saving money
•    Emphasize spending over savings
•    Generally come to the conclusion that saving for retirement is not a priority 

This group is more focused on spending and short-term goals such as a weddings, buying toys, or purchasing a home. To these individuals, credit card debt is significantly more important than it is to any other group. What surprised me was that most Concerned Strivers feel as if they are on track for their retirement goals, primarily because 68% of them have access to an employer sponsored retirement plan. Concerned Strivers are generally counting on their employer sponsored plan, social security, and qualified assets to provide them income in retirement. This group was least likely to hire and receive professional advice.


•    The most optimistic about their financial future
•    Generally less concerned with credit card debt
•    Places a higher priority on long term debt (mortgages)
•    Feel on track towards their financial futures

No surprise, a majority of Confident Savers started saving for retirement BEFORE age 30. Also, 88% reported that they always save monthly, which is significantly higher than any other category. They rate social security income as a top three source of income in retirement. Typically, this group has the highest access to employer sponsored retirement plans and were generally invested more aggressively than the rest of those surveyed. This group does appear to appreciate professional financial advice.


•    The most uncertain and concerned about their financial future
•    Only segment to not report saving money as a top priority
•    Focus is on staying current with bills and paying off debt

This group started the latest in saving for retirement, and reported being the most stressed with not having enough money to save.   Over half of stretched worriers state that working in retirement will be one of their three income sources in retirement.  Stretched Worriers were the least likely to work with a financial professional.


TENTATIVE SAVERS:  Out of all the different groups, this group was fascinating, as they were both optimistic and uncertain about their financial future!  
•    Ranked credit cards and long term debt as equally important for them to pay off
•    Started saving for retirement BEFORE age 30
•    Feel stretched thin when it comes to being able to save money (an impressive 75% still find a way to save on a monthly basis)
•    2nd highest behind Confident Savers with 71% having access to a retirement plan, but were one of the most cautious about the risk of their investments.

You might be asking yourself, “which category would I fall in?”  The answer to that question doesn’t seem to be driven by how much money you have.  Remember, the survey held constant the level of income, assets and savings across the group.  That means a Confident Saver does not have any more income than a Stretched Worrier, but their OUTLOOK for their financial future is totally different. 
So, should you work to determine which “mindset” you have?  That could be helpful.  Are you doomed to failure if you have the “wrong” emotional mindset?  No.  Absolutely not.  

At Gainplan, we believe that proper strategic planning is essential to overcoming your emotional mindset.  Whether you are a Concerned Striver, Confident Saver, Stretched Worrier or Tentative Saver, we believe a financial road map to prosperity is what is necessary to be successful.  Behavioral finance tells us that, as people, we deal emotionally with our monetary decisions 70% of the time, unless we’ve spent the time to document a strategic plan.  When we write out a plan, we deal in the other 30%, with the analytical side of our brains.  This allows us, regardless of how we FEEL about money, to focus on what is important and analyze the money decisions – allowing for better decision making.



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