Is it time for a new American dream?
For the first time ever, national polls find that many Americans — particularly young adults — think they are less likely to have a better life than their parents. Financial Journalist Jean Chatzky explores what that means for the future.
The American Dream — the possibility of prosperity no matter where you start in life — has been taken for granted for generations. Yet the results from The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM show 61 percent of employees surveyed believe achieving that dream will be harder for them than it was for their parents and grandparents. Given that the country is now four years past the start of the Great Recession (and that, economic data to the contrary, many people don't feel we've emerged from it) this isn't all that surprising.
Define your dream.
The problem with so many financial goals, the American Dream among them, is that they're squishy. To have a shot at reaching your American Dream, you have to define what it means — for you.
Once you can articulate your dream in words — such as affording a second home that you can transition to in retirement — you're getting somewhere. At that point, you attach numbers. Those big numbers should be broken down into more manageable benchmarks so you know how you might meet your goal, such as regularly a) saving and b) investing as you work toward the goal.
Plan to achieve your dream.
If you're not comfortable working this American Dream math yourself, don't worry. Most people aren't. And even those (like me) who are comfortable with the calculations find they can use a reality check. That's where a relationship with a financial professional who understands your life (instead of just your money) comes in handy.
A financial professional can:
- Help you identify your financial goals
- Review your current financial status based on your assets, liabilities, income, insurance, taxes and investments
- Help you develop a comprehensive long-term financial plan
- Continually monitor your progress and recommend adjustments to your strategy as needed
With the help of a financial professional and smart financial planning, you can get back on the road toward your American Dream.
Wonder how you can start to dream again?
Check out our interactive retirement planning tool. It can help you decide actions you may need to take, over time, to save for a more secure retirement.
- http://www.gallup.com/poll/147350/optimism-future-youth-reaches-time-low.aspx (May 2011)
- The Principal Financial Well-BeingSM Index (2nd Quarter 2011)
Jean Chatzky is a compensated financial commentator, is not affiliated with any company of the Principal Financial Group and the views she expresses are not necessarily those of the Principal Financial Group or any member company.
Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company a member of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.