Here are 3 money moves wealthy Americans are more likely to make in times of economic uncertainty

Wealth

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Almost regardless of how much you have in the bank, it’s hard to feel financially secure.

Across the board, households are facing surging child-care costs, ballooning auto loans, high mortgage rates and record rents amid economic uncertainty and recessionary fears.

Of those with more than $1 million in investable assets, as many as one third — or 33% — fear they could outlive their savings, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2023 Planning and Progress Study.

And nearly half, or 47%, of wealthy Americans said their financial planning needs improvement.

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Despite their high net worth, less than half of all millionaires, or 44%, felt “very comfortable,” a separate report by Edelman Financial Engines found.

Even doctors, lawyers and other highly paid professionals — also referred to as the “regular rich” — who benefit from stable jobs, homeownership and a well-padded retirement savings account said they don’t feel well off at all. Some even said they feel poor, according to another recent survey conducted by Bloomberg.

Yet there are things millionaires do that the rest of us may not, Northwestern Mutual’s report also found, which can go a long way toward improving long-term well-being.

Here are three moves wealthy Americans are more likely to make:

1. Planning for ups and downs

“Wealthy people hold themselves to an exceptionally high standard when it comes to managing their finances,” said Aditi Javeri Gokhale, chief strategy officer and head of institutional investments at Northwestern Mutual.

In fact, 84% of the wealthiest Americans said they have a long-term financial plan that accounts for economic ups and downs, Northwestern Mutual found. Only 52% of the general population said the same.

“They don’t go on autopilot. Instead, they aim to see well beyond today,” Gokhale said. “That includes the possibility of twists and turns in their financial lives.”

Maintaining a well-diversified portfolio has never been more important, experts say, including stocks and high-quality bonds, which have historically performed well during a downturn.  

2. Working with an advisor

To come up with a plan based on risk tolerance and goals, millionaires are also much more likely to seek professional help.

Seven out of 10 wealthy Americans work with a financial advisor, nearly double the amount of the mainstream population, Northwestern Mutual found.

“When you work with an advisor you get this opportunity to have an agent — very akin to a therapist,” said Douglas Boneparth, a certified financial planner and president and founder of Bone Fide Wealth, a wealth management firm based in New York.

“When life events come up, like the birth of a child or job change, having that third party can help you focus on what you can control and making smart decisions,” he said. Boneparth is also a member of CNBC’s Advisor Council.

3. Staying committed to a financial plan

It follows that “financial planning leads to more disciplined money management,” Boneparth said.

Roughly 42% of millionaires consider themselves “highly disciplined” when it comes to their financial goals and how they plan to reach them; among all Americans, only 1 in 5 said the same.

In most cases, being disciplined means a commitment to save more than you spend, invest regularly, stay diversified and keep emotions in check.

“This financial planning tool is what gives us a road map of what we need to do to accomplish our goals,” Boneparth said. “Without those plans we are shooting from the hip and that’s not great.”

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