New York Life Wealth Watch survey finds key financial differences among American families.

New York Life | April 19, 2023

Marital, parental status impact financial planning, ability to save, and future outlook.

NEW YORK – Against a backdrop of economic challenges, adults are beginning to feel less positive about the current state of their finances in 2023, according to the latest findings from the New York Life Wealth Watch survey.

Financial confidence levels vary across generations, parental status and between men and women:

  • Baby Boomers (30%) and Millennials (32%) are feeling more hopeful about the current state of their finances compared to Gen Zers (25%) and Gen Xers (24%).  
  • Most parents (73%) report having trouble keeping up with current expenses. The top financial difficulties parents reported were paying bills in full (30%), paying bills on time (29%) and building savings (28%).
  • Between men and women, 53% of men report their current household finances are “excellent” or “good” compared to 39% of women.

“The journey to building and maintaining financial wellness is not linear, as both expected and unexpected events can cause setbacks in a financial strategy, or change the strategy altogether,” said Suzanne Schmitt, Head of Financial Wellness at New York Life. “Similarly, the path to defining and building a family looks different for everyone. Parents and non-parents alike have an opportunity to focus on creating a well-rounded financial strategy that includes financial wellness “checkups,” debt repayment strategies, budgeting, and saving. Establishing a solid financial foundation ensures individuals across demographic groups can weather the shock of economic turmoil or unexpected expenses, achieve major life goals, and protect who and what matters most.”

Despite waning optimism, many American households are focused on the same priority: financial resiliency  

  • Money continues to be a source of stress, with the economic environment impacting short-term financial strategies, as 58% report the rising costs of everyday expenses as a top financial concern – followed by saving for the future (37%) and healthcare costs (28%).
  • Accounting for adjustments due to inflation, financial priorities are the same across genders and parental status, as building an emergency fund (34%), paying off credit card debt (28%), and building up retirement savings (28%) are adults’ top 2023 financial goals.
    • GenZers have slightly different financial priorities this year than other generations with building an emergency fund still being a top priority (30%), alongside buying a home (25%) and saving for their own education (22%).
  • Of adults who have an emergency fund, they have on average $16,776.18 saved.
  • On average, adults plan on saving $9,173.68 in 2023 with adults reporting that they have already saved $2,115.17 at this point in 2023.

“During periods of uncertainty, one of the best things to do is to take action where you can, helping to mitigate stress over things that are out of one’s control,” said Schmitt. “Our data shows that Americans are already making progress toward their savings goals this year, indicating a greater likelihood that people can weather financial shocks, as well as plan for bigger goals. No matter the situation, working with a trusted financial professional can help provide peace of mind and keep you on track with your financial strategy.”

Married adults report feeling more secure about their financial futures than single households and adults in relationships.

  • Married adults are more likely to have a financial strategy in place than other household structures (Married: 62%, Single: 49%, In a relationship but not married: 42%, Separated/Divorced/Widowed: 39%)
  • Married adults are more likely to have a positive outlook of the current state of their personal or household finances, with 58% saying “excellent” and “good” compared to those who are in other relationship stages. (Married: 58%, Single: 42%, In a relationship but not married: 36%, Separated/Divorced/Widowed: 34%)
  • Among those married and/or living with a partner, 51% say that they have money conversations regularly and 68% say that they split expenses with their spouse.


Relationship Status

Emergency Savings

Savings Year to Date

Average Monthly Expenses









In a Relationship, but not Married









“There’s power in numbers, as adults who can pool their resources are more likely to feel financially supported compared to those going it alone,” said Schmitt. “Increasing expenses, economic uncertainty, and navigating financial shocks can feel more manageable when the burden is shared. But sharing your financial life with another person can equally cause stress, so communicating about changing needs and planning for future goals is critical for success.”

Parenting has a significant impact on finances, and women are more likely to say parenting is harder across all factors of wellbeing.

  • Parents are spending, on average, 26% of their income on childcare costs.
    • Compared to a year ago, 37% of parents say that childcare costs have increased.
    • Among parents that say their childcare and/or caregiving costs have increased, this group is offsetting increased costs by cutting back on other expenses (34%), working from home/hybrid model of work (23%), and having family members/friends help provide care (22%).
  • In the past year, 59% of parents say that their financial strategy has changed due to life events, compared to 41% of non-parents.
    • Among those that have changed their financial strategy due to a particular life event, parents are more likely to say that they are investing more (17% vs 9%), saving more (38% vs 28%), and building a cash reserve (15% vs 11%) compared to non-parents.
    • Since the reported life event, over 6-in-10 (65%) parents say that their financial strategy is more important now than it was before compared to 54% of non-parents.
  • 70% of parents have established financial accounts for their children with savings accounts (41%) and checking accounts (28%) being the most frequently utilized.
  • Women are more likely to report that parenting is harder financially (73% compared to 66% of men), emotionally (74% compared to 61% of men), socially (67% compared to 56% of men) and physically (64% compared to 60% of men).

“Our data confirms what many parents already know: the decision to add a child to the family has far-reaching impacts across all factors of wellbeing. Becoming a parent is a unique opportunity to ensure your financial strategy is aligned with this new chapter and that debt management, budgeting and savings strategies and protection needs are up to date,” said Schmitt.

Confidence and financial preparedness differ among men and women, regardless of parental status.

  • Men are more likely to have a positive outlook on the current state of their personal or household finances, with 53% saying “excellent” and “good” compared to women (39%).
  • Men are less concerned about the rise of everyday expenses (54%) compared to women (63%).
  • Men are more likely to have more saved in their emergency fund compared to women.
    • Men: $18,159.98
    • Women: $15,008.19
  • Men are more likely to plan on saving more in 2023 compared to women.
    • Men: $12,074.15
    • Women: $6,397.79
  • Thinking about financial goals in 2023, men are more likely to say that they are prioritizing building up retirement savings (31%) compared to women (25%).
    • When it comes to how much adults want to save before retirement, men are more likely to want to save more compared to women.
      • Men: $575,702.71
      • Women: $371,621.66

Women live an average of five years longer than men and are more likely to have their income interrupted by caregiving responsibilities,” said Schmitt. “As a result, women need to stretch their savings to plan for a longer time horizon and to save and invest intentionally. Financial professionals have an opportunity to help women understand their savings, protection, and investing options, along with how to best to manage their wealth and implement a financial wellbeing strategy that tackles challenges to wellbeing, along with appropriate products and solutions that can address diverse needs.”


Wealth Watch is a recurring survey from New York Life that tracks Americans’ financial goals, progress toward those goals and feelings about their ability to secure their financial futures, identifying key themes and trends that are emerging about topics like retirement planning, the role of protection-oriented solutions and the importance of financial guidance.


This poll was conducted between March 14-March 17, 2023, among a sample of 4,412 Adults. The interviews were conducted online. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus1 percentage points.


New York Life Insurance Company (, a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States1 and one of the largest life insurers in the world. Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. New York Life has the highest financial strength ratings currently awarded to any U.S. life insurer from all four of the major credit rating agencies.2

1 Based on revenue as reported by “Fortune 500 ranked within Industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual),” Fortune magazine, 5/23/2022. For methodology, please see

Individual independent rating agency commentary as of10/18/2022: A.M. Best (A++), Fitch (AAA), Moody’s Investors Service (Aaa), Standard & Poor’s (AA+).


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Media contact

Sara Sefcovic
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-4499

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