The Top 10 Financial Priorities for Americans

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Father and son with piggy bank
Rido / Shutterstock.com

After more than two years of struggling with the global COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are trying to get back to normalcy.

Instead of waiting for the pandemic to end, a growing number of Americans seem determined to move on with their lives, even if that also means finding ways to live with a virus that may be with us for years or even decades to come.

As life begins to move forward again, it is crucial to revisit financial priorities. That way, we can chart a course with money that will help us realize goals and dreams, particularly as they relate to retirement.

Recently, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies published its 22nd annual retirement survey of workers, which this year was titled “Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Retirement Outlook of the Workforce.”

Among the 5,846 adults surveyed, these are the top priorities in 2022.

10. Paying long-term care expenses

Senior man in long-term care insurance facility
Tyler Olson / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 9%

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed many of us to think about our health and mortality. Part of getting wiser about the future means facing hard realities — including the fact that someday we may need to pay for very expensive long-term care.

If you are on the fence about making this a financial priority, check out “Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

9. Supporting parents

Older mom and daughter
Ocskay Mark / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 12%

When you were young, Mom and Dad took care of you. Now, it is your turn.

Caring for aging parents is a big job. One way to make it easier is to make sure your folks live close by — perhaps even inside your own four walls. To learn more, read “Secrets to Successfully Sharing a Home With Senior Parents.”

8. Creating an inheritance or financial legacy

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 16%

At some point in life, making a buck gives way to leaving a legacy. Whether it is our children, grandchildren or favorite cause, most of us would like to ensure that some part of this world is better off after we go.

A good estate plan is essential to making such dreams come to fruition, so make sure you have critical documents in order sooner rather than later.

7. Contributing to an education fund

High school graduate
Paisan579 / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 17%

College is brutally expensive. And — as with retirement — the longer you wait to save, the steeper the climb.

If contributing to a child’s college education is a top priority, see what you can learn in “How to Pay for College: 5 Strategies and Tips.”

6. Paying health care expenses

Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 21%

Sometimes, it feels like the three certainties of life are death, taxes and ever-rising health care costs. Even in the wake of 2010’s health insurance reform, expenses have continued to rise for many families.

So it’s no surprise to find that saving for health care expenses is a priority for many Americans. One of the best ways to prepare for future health care costs is to open a health savings account, if you are eligible. We detail the many benefits of HSAs in “21 Surprising Things You Can Pay for With an HSA.”

5. Just getting by to cover basic living expenses

Older woman with empty wallet
AJR_photo / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 28%

Anyone who looks at the final total at the gas pump or the bottom line on their grocery receipt knows it’s getting harder to simply get by.

When prices soar, saving is never easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you are struggling to get by, cutting your costs can make a world of difference.

4. Supporting children

Multigenerational family members
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 29%

A child can drain your wallet like nothing else. And while most of us believe it is money well-spent — a bargain, actually, when we consider how much we love our kids — such spending still puts a strain on our budget.

If providing for your children is hampering your ability to make ends meet, it might be time to create a budget. Money Talks News partner YNAB (You Need A Budget) makes the process painless — and, dare we say it, possibly even a little fun.

3. Building emergency savings

Woman with an umbrella
gpointstudio / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 39%

You never know when a rainy day will arrive. If you didn’t understand that before the pandemic and today’s runaway inflation, you certainly realize it now.

The time to prepare for an emergency is long before it happens, and building a rainy-day fund is an essential part of anyone’s financial peace of mind. If you don’t already have a financial safety net, check out “9 Tips for Starting an Emergency Fund Today.”

2. Saving for retirement

Woman with piggy bank
Jason Stitt / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 52%

Americans are not the world’s greatest savers. After all, it’s easy to put off saving when steady paychecks are rolling in. But at some point — either because you want to or because you’re forced to — your days of working will end.

Will you have enough money saved to survive? Not if you don’t start saving well before retirement. If you’re having trouble building a nest egg, enroll in the Money Talks News retirement course The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need.

This 14-week boot camp is intended for those who are 45 or older, and it can teach you everything from Social Security secrets to how to time your retirement.

1. Paying off debt

woman in debt
Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.com

Respondents who said this is a financial priority right now: 55%

If there is one cardinal rule of good financial behavior, it is this: Avoid unnecessary debt.

Some people manage to steer clear of red ink their entire lives. But for most of us, falling into debt is a rite of passage. Once we realize how much debt hurts us, we often are desperate to climb out of the financial hole.

While paying off debts is rarely easy, it’s always rewarding. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to help reach this goal.