Survey shows Americans struggling to find financial footholdThe stock market is up and the economy is on the mend, but Americans are still struggling to find a financial foothold, according to the Thrivent Financial/ Kiplinger Survey of Family Finances released this week.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
The stock market is up and the economy is on the mend, but Americans are still struggling to find a financial foothold, according to the Thrivent Financial/ Kiplinger Survey of Family Finances released this week.
The results – which appear in the June 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and online at kiplinger.com/links/moneysurvey – reveal that while the economy is recovering, 84 percent of Americans are worried about their finances.
Other key findings of the wide-ranging poll, conducted by Synovate eNation, delved into the differences between sexes, between spouses and partners, and among age groups. Highlights include:
--Americans are “struggling.” That’s how one-third of the 1,000 respondents replied when asked to describe their financial situation today. Another 24 percent said they were “worried,” versus 29 percent who described their financial situation as “stable.”
--43 percent said things had gotten worse over the past two years, versus only 18 percent whose situation had improved.
--They’re less willing to take risks. A whopping three-fourths of those interviewed say recent market volatility has affected the way they handle money – at least a little. And 55 percent are less willing to take risks with their money.
--Financial stability is their top priority. Nearly 60 percent said their most important financial goal is maintaining financial stability, compared with 23 percent who aim to increase their assets. In contrast, two years ago 37 percent were more concerned about building assets versus 41 percent who wanted to maintain stability.
“The ‘new frugality,’ is perhaps here to stay,” said Patrick Egan, director, Asset Management, for Thrivent Financial. “However, while expectations may have shifted, security and stability are well within reach for those who take the time and make the effort to set financial goals and monitor progress.”
--As Americans, our concerns have shifted. “Not enough retirement savings” continues to be the most prevalent worry among respondents, cited by about one-fifth of those surveyed. But today people are more concerned about losing their job - 18 percent versus 15 percent two years ago – and less about credit-card debt – 13 percent versus 18 percent. And only 16 percent of respondents report that they are worry-free.
--Women are more worried than men. Even though men have been hit harder by layoffs during the recession, women were more likely to say they were struggling financially (37 percent versus 29 percent). And roughly 29 percent said the recession had caused tension between them and their spouse or partner. Also, the gender gap is disappearing as to who is making financial decisions in the household: Nearly half of all married couples said they do their finances together.
--Marriage contributes to financial stability. Unmarried respondents were far more likely than their married counterparts to report that they were struggling (40 percent versus 28 percent) and less likely to describe their situation as stable (23 percent versus 34 percent).
--Charitable activities have suffered. The recession has taken its toll on charitable activities. Asked if they give back either financially or through volunteer efforts, a significant number – 34 percent – said no.
--Generosity and thrift are top legacies. Generosity ranked highest as the financial virtue people would most like to leave their children. But thrift was the overwhelming choice among older age groups. And business sense, a dark horse, ran a strong third.
Conducted in March 2010, the Synovate eNation online survey polled 1,000 adults 18 years of age or older in the contiguous United States. The survey has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Readers can log on to kiplinger.com/links/moneysurvey to take the Thrivent Financial/Kiplinger Survey and see how they stack up.