Americans juggle multiple financial goals through various life stages, but it can be a challenge for many to strike a balance between pursuing short-term needs and wants while saving for the future. People of all ages and incomes make lifestyle choices that affect their immediate financial situation — and often these decisions have long- term effects.
We conducted the Financial Trade-Offs study among three generations of Americans to discover which financial needs and goals they prioritize, and which trade-offs they consciously make to meet these goals. What we found is that most people say they are generally willing to make trade-offs today in order to save for tomorrow. However, their financial actions — and the bills they have yet to pay — suggest they may not always be thinking about what will have the biggest long-term impact.

The Financial Trade-Offs study was created by Ameriprise Financial utilizing survey responses from 3,002 employed Americans with access to an employer sponsored retirement plan (or with a spouse that has access to an employer sponsored plan) ages 25-67 who are primary financial decision makers or share in financial decisions in their household. All respondents ages 25 – 49 have investable assets of at least $25,000 while those over 50 have at least $250,000 (including employer retirement plans, but not real estate). The survey was commissioned by Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and conducted via online interviews by Koski Research from November 25 – December 16, 2013.