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How’s your financial well-being?

Money $ & CentsMore than 40 percent of U.S. adults are struggling to make ends meet, a survey by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows. In addition, about a third are experiencing financial hardships.

Along with survey results, the bureau is offering an online tool so consumers can measure their level of financial well-being. 

“These survey results are beginning to measure and examine the financial well-being of consumers,” said Richard Cordray, director of the bureau. “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 bureau in 2016. Using 10 questions, the survey provides the first national data measuring the financial well-being of U.S. consumers. After answering the questions, consumers were given a score from 0-100. In the survey, the average consumer score was 54.

The consumer sample used for the survey was designed to be representative of U.S. households. In addition to questions about financial well-being, people were asked about other measures including income and employment; savings and safety nets; financial experiences; and money behaviors, skills, and attitudes.

Findings from the report include: 

  • More than 40 percent of adults report struggling to make ends meet: Forty-three percent of consumers report struggling to pay bills. In addition, more one third — 34 percent— reported experiencing hardships in the past year. For the survey, examples of hardships include running out of food, not being able to afford a place to live, or lacking the money to seek medical treatment.   
  • Some financial and demographic characteristics are associated with financial well-being: Educational, income, and employment appear to have a strong relationship with financial well-being. In additional, the survey showed that financial well-being is higher for older adults, especially those aged 65 and older, whose average score was 61. Younger adults, those 34 and younger, tended to have the lowest financial well-being score with an average of 51.  

Financial well-being tool

With the bureau’s online tool, consumers can evaluate their financial well-being and look at ways to take control of their finances. The tool is based on the CFPB Financial Well-Being Scale, which was released in 2015 for use by financial education professionals working with consumers.

Consumers can track their financial score over time, and see how they compare to other consumers by income, age, and employment status. In addition, consumers can find bureau resources to help them manage their finances, make progress towards financial goals, and find free or low-cost help from financial professionals.

Copyright 2017, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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