The American Dream: Does it Still Exist?

The American Dream is alive and well but it’s definition may have shifted.  According to Northwestern Mutual’s 2016 Planning & Progress Study, two thirds (66 percent) of Americans believe they can achieve the American Dream. Interestingly, a third (31 percent)also feel their definition of that Dream has changed during the past five years while more than half (57 percent) say their view is different than their parents’ generation.

The research that ‘having a happy family life” (59 percent) and “being financially secure”(58 percent) are the two top attributes of the American Dream, outpacing   wealth (11 percent), opportunity  (18 percent) and moving up in social class (3 percent).”

Notably however, despite prioritizing financial security, many people do not feel financially secure in the present, and are not necessarily bringing high levels of discipline to their financial planning. The study found that:

* Nearly a third of US adults (29 percent) said they do not feel financially secure.

* Only one in five (21 percent) Americans consider themselves to be “highly disciplined” financial planners.

* More than one in ten (12 percent) “do not plan at all” and “have not set any financial goals.”

The good news is that it is rarely too late to build a solid financial foundation. Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning, Northwestern Mutual underscores that while optimism is great, like with most things in life, achieving financial security requires discipline and consistent action. “People may move at different paces, the key is to keep taking steps in the right direction,” says Barsch.

Photo by Dayne Topkin

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