Personal Finance

Here's what investors would do to never have to manage their personal finances again

Key Points
  • Many Americans loathe personal financial planning so much that they would be willing to give up social media and desserts in order to avoid it forever, according to a new survey.
  • The good news is that most individuals said they have made progress in the past year toward financial goals, including improving their credit score, building up their savings or paying down debts.
  • When asked about their five-year time horizon, the top concern shared by most individuals was insufficient savings.
Stocks that pay dividends have, over long periods, outperformed stocks that do not.
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What would you be willing to do if you never had to manage your personal finances again?

A new survey from Merrill Edge posed that question to 1,000 investors with up to $250,000 in investible assets. And some of the answers are surprising.

Topping that list was giving up all social media platforms for good, which was chosen by 41% of respondents. That was followed by permanently cutting all carbs, sugar and alcohol, at 37%; giving up smartphone access for a month, 35%; running into your ex every time you're out with your current partner, 25%; and moving back in with your parents, 25%.

"It's something that people just simply don't like to talk about," said Aron Levine, head of consumer banking and investments at Bank of America, which owns Merrill Edge.

"Financial health is a challenging and difficult topic that many people would rather avoid but, in the end, it's something you can't avoid and you have to deal with it," he said.

When given a five-year outlook, many investors cited one concern: insufficient savings. That was followed by other worries including political instability, a looming recession, market volatility and debt.

Those concerns come even as a majority of respondents — 85% — have worked over the past year to improve their finances. Efforts they have made include raising their credit score, paying down or eliminating credit card debts and establishing an emergency fund.

It also comes as many investors expressed high confidence that they would be able to achieve their long-term goals. That included achieving the retirement they want, leaving money to their children, paying off student loan debt or buying a second home.

"I think it says a lot about the American spirit," Levine said. "People feel, 'if I work hard and I do the right things over a longer period of time, things will work out well.'"

To that end, 55% surveyed said they have turned to professional financial help, either in person or online, and about 66% said they plan to seek that guidance in the future.

Merrill Edge's survey was conducted online between April and May.

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