To deal with their finances in a more responsible manner, numerous consumers altered their spending and saving habits in recent years. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case across the board. It seems that a large percentage of Americans still have some financial bad habits that they’re holding onto.
Young people, in particular, appear to be in need of some new financial habits, as they are far more likely than older age groups to experience some sort of fiscal stress, according to the latest National Financial Capability Study from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation. Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 years old generally took out more loans or hardship withdrawals to cover expenses, or made late mortgage payments.
They were also typically more likely to carry unpaid medical debts, which have been known to wreak havoc on consumers’ finances, the report said. In all, 31 percent of those younger people had more of this type of debt, well above the national average of 26 percent, as well as the just 17 percent of people 55 years old or more who experienced the same difficulties.
Meanwhile, just 41 percent of people say they spend less than their income every year, and 56 percent report not having enough in savings to cover three months worth of expenses when unexpected financial emergencies arise, the report said. Moreover, more than one in three Americans say they don’t pay any more into their credit cards on a monthly basis than the minimum listed on their bills.
“This survey reveals that many Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet, plan ahead and make sound financial decisions — and that financial literacy levels remain low, especially among our youngest workers,” said FINRA Foundation chairman Richard Ketchum. “No matter how you slice and dice it, this rich, new dataset underscores the need for us to continue to explore innovative ways to build financial capability among consumers.”
Consumers who are having trouble dealing with their finances are likely doing so because they are approaching their debts improperly. Taking the time to pay more into these balances in the near future, for instance, will reduce them more quickly and make them easier to handle in the long run. That, in turn, can help to stabilize other aspects of consumers’ full financial pictures.