The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the results of a first-of-its-kind national survey on the financial well-being of U.S. consumers that showed that more than 40 percent of U.S. adults struggle to make ends meet. The survey provides measurements and insights on the financial well-being of specific groups of consumers as well as the population as a whole. In addition to the survey, the Bureau also released an interactive online tool allowing consumers to measure their level of financial well-being.
“These survey results are beginning to measure and examine the financial well-being of consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “And the new tool we are releasing allows consumers to measure their own financial well-being and helps them take better control of their financial futures.”
National Financial Well-Being Survey
The National Financial Well-Being Survey was conducted by the CFPB in 2016. Using the 10 question scale developed by the CFPB, the survey provides the first-ever national data directly measuring the financial well-being of U.S. consumers. Upon answering the 10 questions provided, consumers were given a score from 0-100. In the survey, the average consumer score was 54. The consumer sample used to conduct the survey was designed to be representative of U.S. households. In addition to responding to the questions which are included in the financial well-being scale, people participating in the survey answered questions about a host of other measures. These measures include individual, household, and family characteristics; income and employment; savings and safety nets; financial experiences; and money behaviors, skills, and attitudes. Major findings from the report include:
- More than 40 percent of adults report struggling to make ends meet: Of the nationally representative sample of consumers surveyed, 43 percent of consumers report struggling to pay bills. Additionally, over one third—34 percent—of all consumers surveyed reported experiencing material hardships in the past year. For the survey, examples of material hardships include running out of food, not being able to afford a place to live, or lacking the money to seek medical treatment.
- Certain financial and demographic characteristics are associated with financial well-being: Educational attainment, income, and employment status all appear to have a strong relationship with financial well-being. Additionally, the survey showed that financial well-being is higher for older adults, especially those aged 65 and older, whose average score was 61. On the other end of the spectrum, younger adults, those 34 and younger, tended to have the lowest financial well-being score with an average of 51.
Financial Well-Being Tool
The CFPB is also releasing an interactive online tool to enable people to evaluate their own financial well-being and explore ways to take control of their finances. This new tool is based on the CFPB Financial Well-Being Scale, which was released in 2015 for use by financial education professionals working with consumers. The tool allows consumers to use the financial well-being scale themselves, and see their resulting financial well-being score online. Consumers can track their financial well-being score over time, or see how they compare to other consumers nationally, including by income, age, and employment status. Additionally, consumers can access CFPB resources to help take control of their finances and make progress towards financial goals, and find free or low-cost help from financial professionals.
The Financial Well-Being Tool can be found at: www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/financial-well-being
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.
This article by was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.