COUNTRY Financial explains the index is regularly updated with survey data from about 1,000 adults working in the United States. The most recent index results show nearly half of individuals (47%) do not keep track of their monthly discretionary spending whatsoever. Also, a majority (51%) rate their financial security as just fair or poor.
When asked about their biggest financial fear, not being able to retire comfortably was the most common worry, cited by 28% of Americans overall. Interestingly, households that make more money are actually more worried about being able to support their lifestyles through retirement, COUNTRY Financial says. For example, 43% of households earning $100,000 to $175,000 say not being able to retire comfortably is their biggest financial worry, while 34% of households with more than $175,000 in annual income say the same.
Health care expenses, cited by 18% of households, and not being able to afford rent or mortgage payments, cited by another 11%, are also weighing on a large number of Americans nationwide. COUNTRY Financial suggests health care expenses are especially concerning for Americans ages 50 to 64 (24%), as well as for those over 65 (42%).
Younger Americans under the age of 29, while also worried about retirement, appear to be primarily concerned with affording their rent or mortgage, with 18% citing these factors as a top concern.
Another important trend from the index data shows the rapid growth of online banking is creating a new concern for many Americans. Nearly seven in ten (67%) are worried about their financial information ending up in the wrong hands as banking and payments become increasingly digital.
“Our biggest fears usually come from simply not knowing,” explains Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security support at COUNTRY Financial. “The better you understand your level of financial security, and your goals and the steps to achieve them, the less worried you'll likely be about your finances. The key is minimizing your blind spots.”
For many Americans, one cause of financial anxiety might have something to do with “keeping up with the Joneses,” Buhrmann says. Indeed, about a third of Americans (32%) feel the financial success of their family and friends creates pressure for them to be equally financially successful. At the same time, those with children and individuals who are single or not married are more likely to feel pressure to improve their finances, at 43% and 35%, respectively.
This extra pressure from family and friends might be causing Americans to stay tight-lipped about their finances, COUNTRY Financial finds. If asked to choose between revealing their credit score or who they voted for in an election, only 15% of Americans say they would be more comfortable divulging their credit score. Over half (56%) would rather share who they voted for.
Americans with a financial planner, however, are feeling more confident about their finances and less stress from family and friends. Seventy percent of those with a financial adviser rate their financial security as excellent or good. Less than a quarter (23%) of this group feels pressure to be as financially successful as their friends and family, the index shows.
“A budget is the foundation of any financial plan,” Buhrmann suggests. “If establishing a short- and a long-term financial plan feels intimidating, consider working with a financial planner. They can help take off the pressure, especially when it comes to creating a plan to reach long-term goals like retirement.”
Additional survey data and other COUNTRY Financial research are available at www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com.