Financial goals report card: Maybe a C+

Survey finds mixed results among those who set money goals

If we were graded as a group on whether we succeed at achieving our financial goals, maybe we'd get a C, according to a survey conducted by Capital One.

Only slightly more than 1 in 3 respondents (37 percent) set and then met all or most of their goals for 2015, while 30 percent either didn't set any goals or met none of them. The remaining third of respondents fell somewhere in the middle of the success spectrum.

"It's really important to answer a basic question for yourself -- what do you want? -- and then actually write down your goals," says Capital One spokeswoman Nicole Lapin. "When you don't answer the question for yourself and just go with the flow, you're not taking proactive steps toward living the life you want."

As they make personal goals for 2016, more survey respondents named finances as their top focus for the new year (27.4 percent) over any other area, including family at 26.9 percent and health at 24 percent. 

Almost a third of respondents (32 percent) said that paying off debt would be their top financial priority for 2016, closely followed by growing their savings (27 percent). Sticking to budgets came in a distant third at less than 17 percent.

Says Lapin, "Having one goal top of mind doesn't mean it's the only thing you focus on. For instance, you can look at paying off debt on a timetable while simultaneously trying to grow savings, even in just small amounts."

Capital One's survey was conducted by VeraQuest in early November, using an online sample of 1,508 respondents. It was released Dec. 9.

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Updated: 02-18-2019