Prosperity is something that most people dream of, but that doesn’t mean we’re all dreaming of the same situation. One of the great things about prosperity is that you can define what it means to you right here and now. But the definition of prosperity doesn’t only change from one person to the next. It can also change for each of us several times throughout our lives. What may seem like a huge financial windfall in our 20s might seem like little more than pocket change just 10 years later.
Why does that matter? To find out, we conducted a study aimed to see how Americans view prosperity. Even though individual definitions of prosperity are subjective, Americans have some similar ideas about what it means and how they can achieve it. Here is what we learned.
Why Defining Prosperity Feels Complicated
Our recent study, The Pursuit of Prosperity, uncovered some interesting viewpoints that Americans hold about the different ways they define prosperity.
When thinking about living the lives they want, nearly all Americans (87 percent) place importance on reaching certain financial goals, such as having money in a savings account (69 percent), being able to provide for others (64 percent) or being financially successful (59 percent). This suggests that prosperity isn’t just about financial success; it’s also about the freedom to make choices and live the life you envision for yourself.
There are many things that may shape your ideas of what prosperity is and how to reach it. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of Americans who have yet to achieve prosperity cite demographic factors as barriers to living the lives they want. These factors can include the family you’re raised in, the area of the country you live in and even the stage of life you’re currently in.
Another factor that plays an important role in how we view prosperity is the specific generation demographic that we fall into. Three prominent ones are the Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials.
Breaking Down Definitions by Ages
The Pursuit of Prosperity Study found that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials all have their own distinct opinions on what they need to live prosperous lives. For example:
- Younger generations (ages 18–37) are more likely than their older counterparts (age 54+) to feel like the economy makes it difficult to make money (62 percent vs. 53 percent) or become prosperous (60 percent vs. 53 percent).
- Millennials (27 percent) are more likely than Gen Xers (20 percent) or Boomers (16 percent) to choose to make less money in exchange for the chance to be their own bosses.
- Younger generations (ages 18–37) are more likely than older generations (age 54+) to believe better financial practices will bring them more happiness (52 percent vs. 35 percent) and a greater sense of freedom (51 percent vs. 43 percent).
- Millennials are more likely than their older cohorts (age 38+) to feel they need better-paying jobs (51 percent vs. 31 percent) and more training or development (24 percent vs. 15 percent) to achieve prosperity.
- Millennials (25 percent) and Gen Xers (24 percent) are more likely to say that having financial dependents is preventing them from reaching prosperity. Just 15 percent of Boomers feel that way.
Why Your Perception of Prosperity Matters
How you view prosperity can help determine the way you approach your entire financial well-being. For example, Millennials who associate prosperity with being debt-free may be more likely to make sure their bills are paid on time. They may save their money to spend on experiences they know they’ll enjoy. They might also prefer this more than making impulse purchases or buying luxury items.
On the other hand, Baby Boomers tend to view a comfortable retirement as a form of prosperity. This means they’re more likely to put money aside in savings than to spend it. Many Baby Boomers do this by sticking to a budget, which allows them to save more for the future.
Among all age groups, however, only one in five Americans feel like they have all the tools they need to become prosperous. Seventy-three percent of those who are pursuing prosperity believe they’ll need some sort of financial assistance to reach it. The way you define prosperity can also help determine what kind of financial help you need to reach your goals — whether that’s taking on a side gig, formulating a stricter budget or opening an investment account.
Having clear financial goals and objectives can help you define your own perception of prosperity. Intuit is here to help you get there with products like Mint, Turbo, QuickBooks, and TurboTax. When you’re comfortable with what you’re saving and the way you’re managing your money, you can feel happier and more successful. That, in turn, can encourage you to work harder and reach financial goals quicker.
With a clear definition of prosperity and a plan to get there, you’ll be on the road to enjoying the pride that comes with knowing you’re building a truly prosperous life.