Money Management Survey Results


survey results

Recently I ran a quick 10 question survey trying to get the pulse on what people like you want to read and learn about in the realm of personal finance and investing. I want to thank everyone who took the time to participate and congrats to the winner of the gift certificate I drew at random!

Your responses were invaluable for me in terms of helping me understand what was missing in the current personal finance landscape.  Personal finance touches on so many different disciplines that there are still lots of topics to be covered.

Read on to see what are the common themes in the answers!

I wanted to share the results of the survey because I think the results are very reassuring in a counter-intuitive way.  The results show just how much we are affected by the same issues.  We are not alone. I’m going to say it again and again in this article: you are not alone.

I had 78 respondents over 30 days.  69 of whom identifies themselves as female. It’s possible that many men are experiencing the same, but the poll might have run more heavily in female hangouts on the web.

Here are the most common themes in responses.

Feeling Behind Schedule or Not Keeping Up

I empathize with these feelings.  In our society, we are pressured to always be “getting ahead” be it in our careers or personal lives.  That feeling like we are falling behind or being left behind is pervasive.

So if you feel this way, it’s ok.  You’re not alone.

We freak out because some expert says that by 30, we should have saved our annual salary.  And by the time we’re 45, it should be 5 times our salary.   I look at my online account and think, I don’t have that!

Ugh, I’m so behind.

Worse is, I don’t know how far I am behind or what I’m behind on!

If we actually stopped to think about this “rule of thumb”, there are things that I can’t wrap my head around.  Research shows that a woman’s peak earnings happen at 42.  So how at 45, she was supposed to have saved 5x that peak while making much lower?  Same goes for men, who’s peak earning years is around 55.

At 35, both men and women still don’t know what their peak salary would be yet, so it’s hard to plan to have saved 5 times an unknown amount in the next 10 years.

This is like algebra we did in school.  Y=5X.  And they want you to solve for Y.  But they don’t give you what the value of X is.  How are we supposed to do this in real life?

Here’s the secret: Everyone is behind.   The most important part is to know where you are in terms of where you want to go.  Start where you are.

Feeling Alone, Stressed and Anxious

46% of the respondents expressed a negative emotion: words such as “frustrated; alone; stressful, unsure and anxious” came up over and over again.  So if this describes how you feel, you are not alone.

It used to be that investing and trading stocks were for “people in the know”, either you were bred into that environment and/or you and your family had a lot of money.  Those people had lots of support.  Brokers to spoke to them on every trade, accountants and tax advisors made sure it was the most efficient.  This was when fax machines had those rolly paper, remember those?

After the internet and information age, everything changed. Now, quotes are live and you can google almost anything you want to know about a company.  With information transparency, a lot more people had access to what previously the rich could pay for.

As an evolution of the business (aka to make more money) Brokerage houses began offering “discount brokerage accounts”.  They offered the same platform to trade and hold your accounts but removed all of the service and advice aspects.

That’s why it’s called “discount”.

This opened up investing to everyday people like you and me. Here, we were left to our own, without support, guidance or even a roadmap. The education system also neglected to add financial education to their curriculum.  It is still not offered in most schools.

TMI: Too Much Information

Almost everyone answered that they felt “overwhelmed” when it came to investing.

The great thing about the internet is that it gives us instant access to all financial information.  Any question you care to ask, there is an answer somewhere. We went from having little to no information to having access to all the information at once via the internet.

But we have no way to categorize it.

We are drinking from the proverbial firehose.

Our brains try to reduce the number of stimuli from the environment by categorizing them.  The sheer amount of information and our inability to categorize all the data does cause our brain stress.

Ever see a baby that’s overstimulated?  They shut their eyes, turn away and clench their tiny fists.  We do it too when we fall down the internet rabbit hole while researching finance terms.  We turn away and shut it out. But we cannot escape this stress because money is everywhere in our society.

This doesn’t even begin to describe the stress we feel when we don’t have enough money.  Which is another reason people are feeling “behind”.  When it comes to money, we don’t experience individual emotions, we experience a cross-section of many emotions, each relating to or triggering another.


So, what have we learned?

First, all of us feel behind in some fashion.  From those who have debt and not saving enough, to those not earning enough to invest, to those who starting investing later in life.

Second, it is natural to feel alone, stressed and anxious about money. As a society, we are taught not to talk about money – it’s “impolite”.  Because of this, we have a hard time finding the support and guidance we need.  Worse yet, we often don’t know how to ask or what to ask for when reaching out.

Third, the internet is great, but it is not free.  Now the internet and sheer amount of information available cost us our attention and our mental bandwidth. More often than not, that bandwidth is overloaded.

In light of all of this, it seems pretty hopeless.  But I was very surprised at how many participants responded with words of hope and optimism if they could just get this one area of their lives sorted.

I’ll let you in on another secret.  You can get this area sorted.  You are already taking the first step. To be willing to face those uncomfortable feelings of anxiety; of stress; of isolation.  Imagine the lightness in your heart if you didn’t carry those emotions around.

I’ll leave you with the feelings that we all want when it comes to money.  Choose yours and let that be your destination.

Empowered & Badass
Competent & in Control
Proud & Accomplished
Secure & Safe
Relieved & at Peace
Confident & Strong


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