2012 Household Financial Planning Survey

For CFP® Professionals


2012 Household Financial Planning Survey

On July 23, 2012, CFP Board and the Consumer Federation of America released findings from a survey conducted to assess American's household financial goals, liabilities and strategies for saving and investing. The survey, which was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) and included comparisons to a similar survey conducted in 1997, found that Americans with a personal financial plan feel more confident and report more success managing money, savings and investments than those who have not prepared a financial plan.

These findings reinforce the messages of CFP Board's Public Awareness Campaign. A summary and full report of the survey findings are available to CFP® professionals and our other stakeholders who wish to share this information on the benefits of having a financial plan.

Highlights of the survey show that those with a financial plan ("planners") report faring better than those without one:

  • By a margin of 50 percent to 32 percent, and for all but the lowest income bracket (under $25,000) where few have a comprehensive plan, planners are more likely to feel they are on pace to meet all of their financial goals, such as saving for retirement or for emergencies;
  • By an even larger margin of 52 percent to 30 percent, and across all income brackets, planners are more likely to feel "very confident" about managing money, savings and investments;
  • By a margin of 48 percent to 22 percent, planners are more likely to describe themselves as living comfortably; in addition, as many planners in the $50,000-$99,999 income bracket say that they live comfortably as non-planners in the $100,000 and above bracket;
  • For those in these two highest income brackets, planners report saving a higher percentage of income and having built greater wealth than non-planners. For example, planners with incomes $50,000-$99,999 are more likely to report they save 10 percent or more of their income (57% vs. 39%) and to have accumulated at least $100,000 in investments (37% vs. 19%);
  • For those in the two lowest income brackets, planners with credit cards report being much more likely to pay credit card bills in full. That is true both for those in the $25,000-$49,999 income bracket – 46 percent for planners and 26 percent for non-planners – and for those with incomes under $25,000 – 41 percent for planners and 16 percent for non-planners; and
  • Only 31 percent of respondents said they had a comprehensive financial plan, while about two-thirds (65%) indicated they follow a plan for at least one of their savings goals.


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