Surprisingly, despite the economic challenges that have rocked the nation, Americans remain positive about their futures, with 66% of Americans reporting that their lives are headed in the right direction, according to the MOOD (Measuring Optimism, Outlook and Direction) of America survey released today by Lincoln Financial Group (NYSE:LNC). Americans who say they feel "in control" have a mindset that is not primarily defined by income or employment status; instead, their optimism is driven by an attitude of determination and personal empowerment. In fact, these Americans believe that success in life is determined by forces within an individual’s control, and that they can always find ways to solve problems.
Of the 803 adults polled by Whitman Insights Strategies, a strong majority (72%) is "very" or "somewhat" optimistic about their futures and 66% feel in control of their lives. These are individuals who say they feel at least "somewhat" in control of their personal lives, financial futures and health. Ironically, Americans feel in greater control of their health (51%) than of their financial futures (27%).
"Americans who feel in control of their destinies share a common mindset — one that is focused on positive, constructive behaviors every day," said Mark Konen, president of Insurance and Retirement Solutions for Lincoln Financial Group. "Nonetheless, we were surprised to learn that Americans feel more in control of their health than their financial futures. Despite the best intentions with diet and exercise, nobody can predict accidents or illnesses, so it’s critical to plan one’s future with an eye on holistic health and financial well-being. Fortunately, there are numerous products and solutions available that allow you to take control of your financial future throughout each stage of life."
The MOOD of America poll examined Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward their health, personal life and finances, and uncovered key behavioral and attitudinal factors that are strongly associated with feeling in control of one’s life. The top five behaviors and traits of Americans in control of their lives are:
- Valuing and cultivating their personal relationships
- Volunteering in their communities and giving to charitable organizations
- Taking quiet time to be alone and think
- Exercising and spending time on a hobby
- Adhering to a budget and saving for retirement
"While it’s not particularly surprising that ’take charge’ Americans exercise and spend more time with their families and communities, we were surprised to learn that they also go to the movies more often than those not in control of their lives," added Konen. "In fact, the combination of traits that apply to ’take charge’ Americans shows that these people strike just the right balance: they value alone time, but also invest in their relationships with friends and family; they enjoy leisure time and taking long walks, but also make time to sit down with their paperwork and adhere to a budget."
It’s Not about the Money
Americans in control are not driven by the desire to be wealthy. In fact, Americans "in charge" consider financial freedom — having enough money to do what they want to do — to be four to five times more important than being wealthy.
Although nearly half of those in control of their lives (46%) say they do not have enough money to live on when they eventually retire, and a third (34%) reported an annual household income below $50,000, an overwhelming majority (84%) are very or somewhat optimistic about their financial futures.
Americans in control have taken concrete steps to build financial security such as establishing a retirement account and owning other financial products, including life insurance. They are also more likely to stay within their budgets and save money from every paycheck regardless of the amount.
"The encouraging news here is that regardless of income, there are Americans who have taken concrete steps to create more secure futures," said Charles Cornelio, President of Retirement Plan Services for Lincoln Financial Group. "Our goal at Lincoln is to help people approach retirement planning with a positive frame of mind, so that they can achieve their goals. We focus on motivating people to take actions that lead to better retirement outcomes."
Additional Survey findings:
- 51% of consumers report being very much in control of their health, but only 27% say they are very much in control of their financial futures.
- 50% of consumers in control of their lives go to the movies vs. 33% of those who say they are not in control.
- 63% of those in control of their lives regularly put money away for retirement vs. 35% of those who say they are not in control.
"Overall, ’take charge’ Americans feel empowered to solve their problems," continued Cornelio. "At Lincoln, we want to help all Americans adopt this powerful sense of optimism about their financial futures."
The MOOD (Measuring Optimism, Outlook and Direction) of America survey results are based on a telephone poll conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies on November 4-8, 2011, among 803 adults 18 years of age and older across the United States. Respondents were contacted by phone via a live operator; their telephone numbers were selected using random-digit dial methods. The sample was weighted by age, Hispanic ethnicity and race. Demographic weighting targets are based on the 2010 U.S. Census figures for adults 18 years of age and older. View more details from the survey at www.LincolnFinancial.com/surveys.
About Lincoln Financial Group
Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation (NYSE:LNC) and its affiliates. With headquarters in the Philadelphia region, the companies of Lincoln Financial Group had assets under management of $153 billion as of September 30, 2011. Through its affiliated companies, Lincoln Financial Group offers: annuities; life, group life, disability and dental insurance; 401(k) and 403(b) plans; savings plans; and comprehensive financial planning and advisory services. For more information, including a copy of our most recent SEC reports containing our balance sheets, please visit www.LincolnFinancial.com.
About Whitman Insight Strategies
Whitman Insight Strategies (WINS) is a strategic research firm that builds winning brands, organizations and political leaders. WINS has a wide range of clients, including companies in financial services, healthcare, telecommunications, consumer packaged goods, as well as issue advocacy and nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and political campaigns. For more information, go to http://www.whitmanstrategies.com.