The Money Mindset

Americans' Views On Personal Finances And Giving Back

Being called generous trumps being financially successful

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Despite the financial uncertainties faced by many Americans, generosity is surprisingly at the forefront of their minds. According to the 2015 Money Mindset Report, released today by Thrivent Financial, 61 percent of Americans said they would rather be called generous than financially successful.

Giving Back

In fact, more than 1 in 3 Americans think the purpose of the money they make is to give back – whether during their lifetime or after. While this is positive, the emerging theme from Thrivent’s inaugural research report illustrates that although Americans want to be generous, they aren’t preparing financially for the future. They’re lacking in long-term financial strategies, advice and tools, and this generally holds true regardless of income level.

The 2015 Money Mindset Report, conducted in partnership with Wakefield Research, surveyed 1,001 U.S. adults ages 18+ to learn more about Americans’ relationship with money, including how they make decisions when it comes to their personal finances, giving back to others and the role of faith in their finances.

“The balance between being financially secure and living generously is one that Americans wrestle with on a daily basis,” says Vera Gibbons, a financial journalist who appears regularly on Fox News and Fox Business News. She specializes in consumer behaviors and financial issues within U.S. households.

“This survey by Thrivent Financial highlights areas where individuals can take action to help alleviate financial stress and help protect their financial future, while also showing the incredible importance Americans place on generosity. Clearly, for many, it’s not just about amassing wealth, but instead it’s about ways they can make a difference in the lives of others through time and financial resources.” Gibbons has partnered with Thrivent to help analyze the study’s findings and provide her expert insight into the state of Americans’ financial security.

Managing financial goals

In addition to highlighting the emphasis Americans place on generosity, the survey showed that many still face difficult challenges and lack confidence when it comes to managing day-to-day finances and long-term financial goals:

  • Only 27 percent of Americans are very confident they are making the right decisions with their money and the same percent admit they currently live above their financial means.
  • Sixteen percent of Americans struggle to keep up with day-to-day expenses. Meanwhile, 32 percent are fairly stable, but just making ends meet. And only 10 percent feel they have more than they need.
  • Many Americans struggle with their finances in the following ways: 32 percent don’t have an emergency fund, 25 percent don’t have a long-term financial strategy and 21 percent don’t have a short-term strategy. In fact, 79 percent don’t have a financial advisor.
  • Most Americans aren’t protecting their finances or preparing for the future. More than half of Americans (53 percent) don’t have life insurance, 62 percent don’t have a retirement fund and 89 percent don’t have disability income insurance.

Ingrained generosity
The balance between being financially secure and living generously is one that Americans wrestle with on a daily basis

Although the findings reveal Americans are struggling with money, they clearly see themselves as generous and prioritize giving back:

  • Seventy-one percent, including 79 percent of Millennials, think they are more generous than the average American.
  • Most consider “generous” to be a very high compliment: 61 percent would rather others call them generous than financially successful.
  • More than 1 in 3 Americans (35 percent) think the purpose of the money they make is to give back – whether during their lifetime or after.
  • While not all Americans volunteer their time to a nonprofit, they do recognize its importance: 59 percent think donating time makes a bigger impact than donating money.
  • Sixty-four percent of Americans, including 70 percent of Millennials, regularly volunteer for a nonprofit organization. The biggest percentage of Americans volunteer at churches and with organizations that help those in poverty.

“At Thrivent we’re dedicated to helping people have a healthy relationship with money, and we find that generosity is a powerful outcome of that,” says Brad Hewitt, CEO of Thrivent Financial. “The data from our 2015 Money Mindset Report shows that a majority of people want to be generous, but may not be making other decisions that help them down the path of being wise with money. As people improve their money habits—by spending less than they make, being wise with debt, having short- and long-term plans, protecting against potential setbacks, and giving back—we find they’re able to experience more freedom to fulfill their goals and dreams.”

The survey also revealed that those who turn to their faith communities for financial advice are more equipped for the years ahead, including Millennials, who are more likely than other generations to refer to their faith communities:

  • Nearly 1 in 4 (23 percent) Americans, including 38 percent of Millennials, have turned to a faith community, religious leader or faith-based financial education provider for financial advice.
  • Those who have turned to their faith communities for financial advice are slightly more prepared for their future. Twenty-eight percent have a long-term financial strategy, compared to just 19 percent of those who have not turned to a faith community.

To view the full report by Thrivent Financial or to see expert analysis of the results, please visit here.





About the Study
Wakefield Research, a market research consultancy specializing in strategic and tactical research, conducted the Thrivent Financial survey among 1,001 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+ between July 16 and July 27, 2015, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population ages 18+.
Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
About Thrivent Financial
Thrivent Financial is a Fortune 500* financial services organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously. As a membership organization, it offers its more than 2.3 million member-owners a broad range of products, services and guidance from financial representatives nationwide. For more than a century it has helped members make wise money choices that reflect their values while providing them opportunities to demonstrate their generosity where they live, work and worship. The organization has $105.4 billion in assets under management/advisement (as of December 2014), and has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for four years in a row by The Ethisphere® Institute (2012-2015). For more information, visit You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Insurance products issued or offered by Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Not all products are available in all states. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415, a FINRA and SIPC member and a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent. For additional important information, visit
*Fortune, June, 2015
About Vera Gibbons
Vera Gibbons is a financial journalist based in New York City. She appears regularly on Fox News and Fox Business News. Gibbons is an expert in personal finance and specializes in consumer behaviors and financial issues within U.S. households. Her focus is in examining the evolving financial difficulties Americans experience, such as insufficient wages and inflation, as well as cultural spending trends. Prior to FOX, Gibbons held similar roles with, Yahoo!, CBS’ The Early Show, CNBC and MSNBC. She appeared regularly on all NBC platforms, including the TODAY Show and Nightly News. Gibbons has written for Inc., SmartMoney, Kiplinger’s, the New York Times, Real Simple, All You, Reuters, AOL, and CNBC. She currently blogs for Zillow, MarketWatch and Fortune.
The material presented includes information and opinions provided by a party retained by, but not related to Thrivent Financial. It has been obtained from sources deemed reliable; but no independent verification has been made, nor is its accuracy or completeness guaranteed. Some opinions expressed may not necessarily represent those of Thrivent Financial or its affiliates. They are provided solely for information purposes and are not to be construed as solicitations or offers to buy or sell any product or service. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates accept no liability for loss or damage of any kind arising from the use of this information.