When it comes to managing their money, most people are content on their own. That could backfire.
Despite reports that many workers are living paycheck to paycheck and not even half of all adults would be able to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense, the majority of Americans are declining any financial help or advice.
To that point, 75 percent, of Americans manage their own finances, with no help from a professional or online service, according to a new CNBC Invest In You and Acorns Savings Survey. Only 17 percent said they use a financial advisor.
John Holloway, 33, who co-owns a life insurance brokerage in Roswell, Georgia, says he’s determined to do it alone, even while supporting a family. “I like to challenge myself,” he said.
Admittedly he’s made some mistakes, like neglecting to save early on, he said. Now Holloway sets aside whatever he can and sticks with a 70/30 split of stocks to bonds in his investments.
As of his most recent tally, he has about $250,000 stashed away, including home equity, he said.
For most people, lacking the know-how to handle your own finances comes at a high cost, according to the National Financial Educators Council, or NFEC.
Americans said money mistakes cost them $1,230, on average, last year alone, the NFEC found, not to mention the toll that can take on long-term savings goals.
Over time, the stakes get much higher. “With debt and living expenses on the rise in much of the country, the importance of setting financial goals — and sticking to them — has never been greater,” said Jerry O’Flanagan, the executive vice president of consumer banking at First National Bank of Omaha.
However, most people are coming up short, he added. “They’re not spending enough time on it.”
A report by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 4 in 10 workers who provided an estimate of their retirement savings said that they “guessed” the amount they needed, a finding that was basically unchanged from a decade earlier.
Still, more than half of adults, or 57 percent, are more confident about their ability to save for retirement than they were three years ago, according to the CNBC survey.
The survey, conducted for CNBC by SurveyMonkey in March, polled more than 2,300 adults about various aspects of financial wellness.
Another report by the Stanford Center on Longevity found that even under the most optimistic assumptions, most workers are not currently meeting their retirement savings goals.
The Stanford Center advises saving 10 percent to 17 percent of your income if you plan to retire at 65 — about double what most people are actually socking away.
To get a more accurate picture of your retirement number, financial advisors, even apps, can play an important role as well as addressing any specific financial concerns you may have, such as a job change, move, illness, change in marital status, buying or selling a home, or paying for a child’s education.
Not surprisingly, those making more than $150,000 a year were more likely to consult with a financial pro or use a money management app, the CNBC survey found. Those making less than $50,000 annually were the most likely to admit to not managing their financial future at all.
“There’s a common misconception that you have to have wealth to work with an advisor and that’s not the case,” said Bill Van Sant, a certified financial planner and managing director at Girard Partners outside of Philadelphia.
“High net worth individuals are still going to have assets at the end of the day,” he said “[Having a financial plan] is even more important for your typical family.”
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.