The Financial Picture Through The Eyes Of Italian Americans: Here’s How It Differs

In April 2019, the Personal Financial Satisfaction Index for the first quarter showed that financial happiness among Americans had risen by 11 percent and hit a new high. As consumers begin to feel much more secure in their financial lives, the focus shifted to what was driving the change in their view and the ensuing positivity. While economic factors such as job growth can be held partly attributable, there are a host of personal factors such as inclines to saving and retirement preparation views that have also contributed.

However, it is well known that the United States of America is a country of diversity, and just as its culture and food will differ across ethnicities, so will their approach to their financial lives. Italian Americans account for almost 6 percent of the American population and are considered a vibrant part of the country. They bring with them wonderful food, wine and also a few unique Italian habits practiced in life including on the monetary front. Here’s how the financial picture differs for the Italian American population.

Family And Friends Remain Source Of Happiness

Americans continue to pursue the age-old dream of financial security. In fact, money is now the top stressor for people, surpassing work or relationships according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study. Yet for Italian families, more emphasis continues to be placed on the value of family, and friends. To that end, a good work-life balance is important to them; as is flexible employers who are family oriented. While Italian Americans do work in earnest, their success and happiness is measured not in money but in getting the balance right. In 2018, the World Economic Forum and Thermosoft survey on quantifying measures of success in the eyes of Americans showed that 67 percent stated that income was the missing or defining factor in their success story. For American Italians, being able to be with friends and family is more important. In the end, financial happiness ranks second for this part of the population.

Passion And Love Remains Constant- Yet Financial Stability Is A Worry

Employment and the income attached to it is also viewed in a contrasting light. The quest for employment which is enjoyable and aligns with their dreams is stronger for the Italian workers in America. However, one constant with the American population is a worry over an improved financial future. A significant portion of the population is now more focused on financial health than ever before and it is no different for an Italian American. In Allianz’s annual New Year Resolution survey, 71 percent of participants said their priority was financial health in the upcoming year. The difference here lies in the financial habits participants plan to change. When asked, 29 percent indicated they would change the habit of not saving any money while 23 percent said they were debt reliant or took too long to repay outstanding debt. However, for Italian Americans, some of these habits are already ingrained in the financial routine as they attach a degree of pessimism to their income sources.

They Are Surprisingly Adept At Saving

Over 58 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 saved according to a GOBanking survey. However, interestingly Italian American families are doing well in the saving department despite putting family ahead of financial security. Not only are they saving more compared to the average American but they are also more prevalent to use cash as a means of payment which points in the opposite direction of the current debt dilemma Americas currently find themselves in. A part of this stems from the drive to set up other income sources besides employment and the preference to not rely solely on a salary. In a way, they are preparing for their future beyond retirement age and securing their family’s comfort by making sure that their job income is not the sole source of income in an Italian American household. Additionally, their preference for use of cash has meant less reliance on credit cards and removed the payment of interest charges and repayments to an extent. Around 14 percent of Americans cited having too much debt as one of their reasons for not saving more. However, this is not to say that they have shunned consumer credit and financing tools. Instead, they believe that spending money on unnecessary items you cannot afford is ill-advised and therefore are careful to research the different options in short term consumer finance.

The key takeaway from it all centers not on whether Italian Americans are comfortable financially and happy but on the difference in approach when it comes to their finances. Their proactiveness and avoidance of credit means have helped them save for their future, making them able to save yet they do not pursue happiness through their finances. Instead, they find it at home with the people they love.