Survey reveals consumers’ top financial concerns
April is Financial Literacy Month and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recently released the results of the 2013 Financial Literacy Survey. The annual survey provides data and trending around Americans’ attitudes and behaviors related to personal finance.
“This year’s survey results provided somewhat of a mixed message,” said Mark Foster, Director of Education for Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA). “More than one in four consumers indicated they are spending more than last year, yet 77 percent admitted to having financial worries, listing insufficient savings as their top financial concern. People need to beware of the fact that increasing spending without sufficient savings could be a recipe for financial disaster.”
Regarding consumer responses around financial concerns, respondents were asked which areas of personal finance currently worry them the most, and were allowed to select multiple responses, with results as follows:
- Not enough savings – Overall, 57 percent of Americans indicated they are worried over a lack of savings, including forty-three percent who are concerned about not having enough “rainy day” savings for an emergency, and 38 percent concerned about retiring without having enough money set aside. Although fairly evenly divided, the data suggest that having enough money to resolve daily emergencies takes precedence over the longer term retirement planning.
- Not being able to pay financial obligations – A total of twenty-six percent of U.S. adults, or roughly 61 million people, were worried about servicing their debt commitments, including concerns around paying credit card debt (13%), repaying student loan debt (8%), an inability to make monthly vehicle payments (7%), and not being able to pay off existing medical debt (6%).
- Health insurance – One in four U.S. adults (25%) are worried about health insurance – either not being able to afford it (19%) and/or not having any (17%).
- Credit – While 19 percent were worried about their credit score and/or lack of access of credit overall, 16 percent were anxious about their score, with nine percent concerned over their lack of access to credit, suggesting that consumers continue to realize the importance of credit in their lives. However, most adults have neglected to review their credit report (65%) or score (60%) in the past year.
- Job loss – Eighteen percent, or more than 42 million Americans, indicated fear of job loss as a major concern, a number that is disturbingly high.
- Foreclosure – As the least of consumers’ concerns (among those listed), a comparatively small four percent of Americans are worried over losing their home to foreclosure, undoubtedly a positive signal for the housing industry and the economy as a whole.
The good news is roughly 20 percent of U.S. adults indicated they do not have any financial worries, a strong sign of consumer confidence.
Remaining stubbornly consistent over the past three years, 40 percent of U.S. adults gave themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance, thus it is not surprising that nearly four in five (78%) agree that they could benefit from additional advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional.
There is ample opportunity for consumers to improve their level of financial literacy and take steps to resolve their financial problems. Although the plurality of U.S. adults indicated that, if they were having financial problems related to debt, they would first turn to their friends and family for assistance (28%), a similar number (27%) also said they would reach out to a professional nonprofit credit counseling agency for help, demonstrating a high level of confidence in the value of credit counseling.
For a free budgeting and credit counseling session, consumers can contact CCOA at (800) 889-4916 or go online to www.CCOAcares.com. CCOA’s Debt Management Program can lower interest rates and lower monthly payments to help debtors become debt free.
Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA) is an Arkansas-based, non-profit organization that is supported by grants to provide free financial seminars, free and confidential counseling on budgeting, credit, home buying and mortgage delinquencies and a debt management program. Founded in 1995, CCOA’s free counseling is available in-person, by phone and online. CCOA helps over 20,000 people every year with free financial counseling and education. For free and confidential advice, consumers can call (800) 889-4916 or visit www.CCOAcares.com.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.