Study: Majority of Americans Continue to Struggle with Finances

Just 29% of Americans—approximately 73 million people—are financially healthy, according to the Financial Health Network’s Financial Health Pulse report released today. That figure was up only one percentage point from a survey conducted a year ago. Fifty-four percent of Americans were classified as “financially coping,” struggling with some but not all aspects of their financial lives—such as spending less than they earn, saving, paying bills on time and managing existing debt—while 17% were considered “financially vulnerable,” struggling in all or nearly all areas.

The survey found that compared to last year, respondents said they are having an easier time paying their bills and are more confident about their debt. Two-thirds—66.1%– said that they were able to pay their bills on time, up 2.2 points from 2018. Just over 60% say they expect to pay off their current debt (excluding mortgages) within five years, up 2.6 points from last year. However, the survey also found that individuals putting less money into short-term savings; 12% of respondents said they had less than one week of living expenses saved in 2019, and just 16.8% said they had three to five months’ worth of expenses saved.

Individuals with lower household incomes—less than $30,000—remained the least financially healthy income segment, though their overall financial health was better in 2019 than the year prior. Forty-five percent of this cohort said they could pay all of their bills on time, up 5.3 points from 2018, while 34.7% said they have a manageable amount of debt. The survey also noted signs of vulnerability among middle-income individuals and people in their prime working years.