What Will Phoenix Residents Do for Financial Security in the Long Run? Hint: They Won’t Cut Back on Discretionary Spending

Merrill Edge® Report Finds Valley Residents Prioritize Homeownership but Not at the Expense of Vacation or Going Out

Monday, December 4, 2017 9:00 am EST

While Phoenix-area residents were most likely to say they are knowledgeable about the Great Recession (49 percent) compared to those who live in other cities, it doesn’t mean they are willing to cut back on spending to save for the future. In fact, they are the least likely of those surveyed nationally to cut back on going out (30 percent versus 39 percent nationally) or delay buying a home (9 percent versus 18 percent nationally) to save money for the long run.

Phoenix residents are also significantly less likely than other Americans surveyed to make the following sacrificial spending decisions:

  • Skip vacation for a year (24 percent versus 33 percent nationally).

  • Never retire (11 percent versus 17 percent nationally).

  • Postpone getting married or having children (8 percent versus 14 percent nationally).

These findings are according to the latest Merrill Edge Report, a biannual survey of 1,000 mass affluent Americans that oversampled 302 Phoenix residents between September 6 and September 24, 2017. The report reveals significant differences between how Phoenix residents approach spending and saving compared to other cities in the U.S.

“The fall Merrill Edge Report showed us that Valley residents are not willing to cut back on discretionary spending to save money in the long run,” said Corine Haten, Financial Solutions Advisor for Merrill Edge. “No matter what their priorities may be, it is important for people to establish long- and short-term financial goals and create a tailored plan to best pursue them.”


Phoenix: A city of transplants?

Although Phoenix residents feel strongly about homeownership, their roots in the Valley might not grow too deep. Sixty-one percent of Phoenix residents expect to live in five or more cities in their lifetime, with 20 percent expecting to live in 10 or more. When determining where to live, stability (74 percent) is more important to them than flexibility (26 percent).

What’s more, 53 percent of Phoenix residents expect to have five or more jobs in their lifetime. Fifteen percent expect to have 10 or more jobs.

The transient nature of Phoenix residents may also be why they are least likely (35 percent versus 41 percent nationally) to say that making a difference for those in need is a success factor in their lives.


Family and well-being more important than being a millionaire

Americans across the country — including those in Phoenix — are redefining what it means to be successful, prioritizing their ability to make a positive impact on their families over pure earning potential. Nearly three-quarters of Phoenix residents say providing for family is the most essential definition of success, compared to those living in all other cities surveyed. Only 12 percent of respondents in Phoenix say being a millionaire is essential to their definition of success.

In line with their family-first mentality, Phoenix residents appear to emulate their parents financially by following in their footsteps (49 percent) versus learning from their mistakes (40 percent). This is in line with all Americans surveyed, who appear to be following in their elders footsteps (47 percent) instead of avoiding their mistakes (41 percent).

In addition to providing for family being most important to the definition of success, Phoenix residents also believe living a healthy lifestyle (52 percent versus 44 percent nationally) and owning a home (50 percent versus 40 percent nationally) are essential. Compared to residents in all of the cities surveyed and the national average, Phoenix-area residents felt the strongest about the importance of homeownership in defining success.

For more in-depth information about the financial behaviors and priorities of mass affluent Phoenix residents and Americans as a whole, read the entire fall 2017 Merrill Edge Report here.



Merrill Edge Survey Methodology
Convergys (an independent market research company) conducted a nationally representative, panel-sample online survey on behalf of Merrill Edge Sept. 6-24, 2017. The survey consisted of 1,010 mass affluent respondents throughout the U.S. Respondents in the study were defined as aged 18 to 34 (millennials) with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000 or those aged 18 to 34 who have investable assets between $20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000; or aged 35-plus with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000. For this purpose, investable assets consist of the value of all cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds and all other types of investments excluding primary home and other real estate investments. We conducted an oversampling of 300 mass affluents in the following markets: Southern California, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Atlanta, and Phoenix. An additional group of 205 Generation Z respondents was surveyed. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample, about +/- 5.6 percent for the oversample markets, and +/- 6.8 percent for the Gen Z group, all reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

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