How Stressed Are Americans About Finances?

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401k, financial stress, debt, financial wellnessCue the sad trombone.

It’s the opposite of breaking news at this point. Another day, another report on the current state of Americans’ less than stellar financial situations. The latest revelation: 87 percent of U.S. adults are at least somewhat stressed about money.

When respondents were asked to identify the level of stress they are experiencing, the Purchasing Power Financial Stress Survey – 2018 found:

  • 38 percent have some financial stress today
  • 24 percent have a fair amount of stress
  • 14 percent have quite a bit of stress
  • 9 percent have a great deal of stress

The survey polled 900 U.S. adults who are either full-time employees or spouses of full-time employees. Respondents pointed to a variety of reasons for feeling financially strained, with household bills being the most common cause for concern (47 percent indicated as much). Other reasons for financial stress involved unexpected expenses (43 percent), retirement planning (37 percent), healthcare (34 percent), high credit balance (30 percent) and growing credit card debt (29 percent).

Lifestyle changes, including decreasing household income, having a baby or caring for an elder, were a cause for financial stress among one in four respondents. Tuition, daycare, student loans and the like were stressing out another 21 percent.

“Although the U.S. economy is healthy and the stock market continues to rise, employees are still stressed about their finances. Many struggle to pay their household bills because financially-fragile employees don’t necessarily benefit from these trends,” Scott Rosenberg, Purchasing Power president, said in a statement.

Reflecting on the past 12 months, most respondents said their stress level has remained the same (46 percent). Nearly 40 percent think it increased, while 16 percent said it lessened.

Thankfully, some Americans are optimistic when looking ahead at 2018. Thirty-four percent of adults foresee their financial stress level going down. Just one in five think it will increase and around half believe it will remain the same.

“The reason employees have financial issues usually points to a lack of financial literacy. In some cases, employees with financial issues don’t have healthy financial habits, so they don’t know how to resolve their situation,” explained Rosenberg.

To help employees improve spending and saving habits, and in an effort to improve companies’ bottom line, Rosenberg added that many employers “are now offering are financial education tools and resources; voluntary benefits such as financial counseling; and programs that address short-term financial needs including employee purchase programs and low interest installment loans.”

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