Survey: Redefining the American Dream

Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Say Top Financial Goal is Retirement

Date: August 22, 2011

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

DENVER—For some, the American Dream can be found in the comforts of a modest home surrounded by a white-picket fence. But a new survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) finds that almost half of American adults say the financial goal that is most important to them is having enough money for retirement.

Forty-seven percent of U.S. adults aged 18 and older say having enough money for retirement is their top financial priority, compared to just 17 percent who feel homeownership is their top financial goal. The online poll was commissioned by NEFE in cooperation with, and conducted by Harris Interactive.


"Homeownership has been a traditional indication of achieving the American Dream," says Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE. "But whether it’s due to the decline in the housing market or because of challenges experienced during the economic downturn, people grasp the importance of planning for the future and seem to be having a shift in their approach—from physical to more financial security-based values."

In thinking about their own financial situations, 57 percent believe they are achieving the American Dream. But the chase isn’t without its obstacles. A majority of U.S. adults (70 percent) agree that a significant obstacle to achieving the American Dream is their inability to save enough, and 54 percent agree that managing their debt is a significant barrier. 

For tips, resources and information on how to achieve your financial goals, visit and

Take the LifeValues Quiz

Understanding your financial values is one key to success in managing your money. NEFE’s LifeValues Quiz helps people identify the values that drive their financial decisions. To learn more and to take the quiz, visit

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE from June 28-30, 2011, among 2,257 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity and propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, click here.


  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]