BIGGEST FEAR IS NOT SAVING ENOUGH MONEY FOR RETIREMENT
Primerica, Inc., a provider of financial services to middle-income families, released its 2019 Primerica Financial Security Monitor, which found many Americans remain anxious about their long-term financial security. The survey of 1,000 middle-income Americans with household incomes between $29,000 and $106,000 was completed in February and found that many families are not taking steps toward a secure future. The Monitor provides a detailed snapshot of middle-income Americans financial preparedness, habits,and concerns.
Only half of middle-income Americans believe their financial security will improve in the next five years. Just one-in-four Americans feel aware enough to be very comfortable determining how much they need to save for retirement on their own. Half have never met with a financial professional. And the Monitor’s Financial Security Scorecard – which measures individual financial security preparedness – found that only 31% of Americans earn an A orB for preparedness based on answers to key indicators.
COSTLY FINANCIAL MISTAKES AND THE VALUE OF FINANCIAL GUIDANCE
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61%) acknowledge making at least one really bad financial mistake, with an average loss of more than$27,000.
To measure long-term financial preparedness, the Monitor included a Financial Security Scorecard. Survey respondents were graded based on whether or not they engage in the following financial preparedness fundamentals:
• Making more than the minimum payment on credit card bills every month;
• Having $50,000 or more in life insurance coverage;
• Saving every month, regardless of amount;
• Investing some of their money in accounts outside traditional savings accounts;
• Having enough savings to cover three months of expenses if the primary breadwinner loses his or her job.
Close to half (43%) reported doing two or fewer of these financial fundamentals. But those who have met with a financial professional showed stronger results: 76% of those who have met with a financial professional earned a C or better, compared to just 39% of those who have not.
BIGGEST FINANCIAL FEAR IS BEING READY FOR RETIREMENT
The No. 1 fear among middle-income Americans is not saving enough for retirement (43%). When asked why they don’t save more, half (50%)say it’s because they don’t make enough money to save.
MANY CONCERNED ABOUT CREDIT CARD DEBT
High credit card debt is the second-rated concern, with one in three middle-income Americans saying it’s their biggest financial concern.More than half do not pay off their credit card balance every month, and one-in-five make just the minimum payment or less. The average credit card debt of all respondents is nearly $3,000. The third biggest concern is paying medical bills (22%), followed by worries about stable income (20%).
MORE TO DO TO PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES
Just over one-third are confident they could pay for an emergency expense, and 69% worry about how their families would cope financially if faced with a major medical expense, or if a significant economic recession were to hit (67%).
MILLENNIALS NOT COMFORTABLE ‘GOING AT IT ALONE’ ONLINE
The Monitor survey also examined differences in attitudes and behaviors towards personal finance across generations. Although they are the first generation to grow up as “digital natives,” millennials are the most uncomfortable of any age range doing personal financial tasks online. These respondents, between the ages of 18 and 34, are the least likely to be comfortable opening an investment account, buying insurance, completing taxes or tracking their financial progress without working directly with a financial professional. Feeling comfortable completing personal finance tasks online,unassisted, is highest among Gen Xers (the 35-54 age range).
“The finding that millennials are not comfortable managing their personal finances electronically is surprising, because we know they are very tech savvy,” Williams noted. “The idea of ‘going at it alone’ with their personal finances can cause a lot of anxiety, and they need in-person support from a financial professional to feel confident about their decisions —especially those who are just starting out.”