Americans Are Clearly Worried About Their Financial Futures

Americans Are Clearly Worried About Their Financial Futures
By Dave Freeman
Last updated: January 16th, 2017
Americans Are Clearly Worried About Their Financial Futures

These are trying times for Americans and their financial peace of mind. What does 2017 and beyond have in store for us? That remains unknown, but it is clear that several aspects top American's fears when they think about their families' financial future.

For the past 16 years, a Gallup Poll was conducted regarding how Americans felt regarding seven specific financial issues. And in 2016, the "worry" numbers on all seven specific financial issues rose.

Here are the seven:

  • Not being able to pay medical costs of a serious illness/accident
  • Not being able to maintain the standard of living you enjoy
  • Not having enough to pay your normal monthly bills
  • Not having enough money for retirement
  • Not being able to pay medical costs for normal healthcare
  • Not being able to pay your rent, mortgage or other housing costs
  • Not being able to make the minimum payments on your credit cards
  • Now let's look at them a little more closely:

Not being able to pay medical costs of a serious illness/accident

60% of Americans worry about this. This is up 5% from the previous year. The healthcare debate rages, and "dismantling" of Obamacare is the hot topic, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a very real problem.

Not being able to maintain the standard of living you enjoy

51% of Americans worry about this. It's a tricky number, because it's ambiguous. We all have different "standards". For some people, out to eat once a week is a standard they enjoy. For others, it's a personal chef. So personally, I find this one a bit meaningless.

Not having enough to pay your normal monthly bills

41% of people worry about this. The key word in this is "normal" monthly bills. That makes this more a fear of steady employment/income than anything. And in this job-a-minute world, it's a very real concern.

Not having enough money for retirement

This is the biggest fear for Americans. A full 64% of those polled worried about this. The plain truth is, saving for retirement has become a huge issue, and while this is a worry, the debate for cutting Social Security continues.

Not being able to pay medical costs for normal healthcare

45% of responders fear this. Again, the key word here is "normal". This makes this another job related issue. As health plans get cut, more and more Americans fear the basics are going to be left behind. I personally was downgraded from Platinum to a higher-deductible Silver plan this past year with my insurer.

Not being able to pay your rent, mortgage or other housing costs

34% of people fear this, which isn't as high as the others on this list. This is more or less a job related issue too.

Not being able to make the minimum payments on your credit cards

This is the lowest number on the list at 21%, likely because it's a) again, job/income related, and b) if things go south, credit card payments are the least of our worries. Food and rent get paid first.

The Bottom Line

These fears are very real, and entirely justified. But what can we do about it?

Besides the obvious "self-improvement" aspects of this (get more education, get a better job, etc.) maybe we should start making these items more of a part of the national debate. Because they really aren't a big part of it right now, and definitely weren't front and center in the last Presidential election. We argued much more about guns, abortion, Islam, e-mails, twitter, and whose lives mattered far more than we talked about finances, new industries, Universal Health Care, and Social Security, and that really needs to stop.

The fears are very real, and these seven all went up from 2015 to 2016. Let's hope that 2017 brings a little more optimism.

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