The majority of Americans prefer long-term financial planning over get-rich-quick schemes, according to a new survey.

The survey, by Northwestern Mutual, found that three quarters of people prioritize long-term planning over short-term performance, and one-third said “slow and steady wins the race” best describes their approach to future financial goals.

People aged 55 and older said they believe the best financial decisions they ever made include saving early (40 percent), paying off a mortgage (40 percent), buying real estate at a good price (29 percent), investing heavily in a 401(k) (27 percent), making sure their family was protected (22 percent).

In contrast, people aged 25 to 54 said they believe the best decisions they will have to make in coming years will be starting to save early (53 percent), making sure their family is protected (52 percent), relying heavily on their 401(k) (25 percent), and buying real estate at a good price (20 percent).

"Interestingly, there's consistency across generations with Americans valuing the importance of saving, paying off debt and managing risk," said Northwestern Mutual executive vice president Greg Oberland in a statement. “We often say that people can’t expect to invest their way to prosperity, but rather see investing as one component of a larger holistic plan. This data indicates that's a message that is resonating.”

Other results from Northwestern Mutual’s 2013 Planning & Progress Study revealed that nearly one in four (23 percent) Americans would like to be more cautious but feel they have a lot of catching up to do. Among them over half (52 percent) said it’s because of unexpected expenses, 47 percent said it’s because of debt, and 37 percent said it’s due to a lack of effective planning for the long-term.

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