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FINRA Study Sheds Light On Americans’ Financial Outlooks

Americans may be feeling better about their finances in general, but among women, millennials, African-Americans, Hispanics and those without a high school education, struggling with finances is still a daily occurrence. That’s according to the National Financial Capability Study put together by FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

The study, which measured four components of financial capability: making ends meet, planning ahead, managing financial products and financial knowledge, found that 21 percent of Americans have an unpaid medical bill while women and more likely than their male counterparts to put off medical services because of the costs associated with it.

The survey also found that close to half of the respondents who only have a high school education couldn’t come up with $2,000 in 30 days if there was an emergency. Only 18 percent of those with a college degree said the same thing.

In the case of millennials, the survey found 29 percent of millennials with a mortgage have been late with a payment, compared to 7 percent of those 55 or older. Hispanics and African Americans were found to be the most likely groups to use high-cost forms of borrowing, be it a pawn shop or payday loan. All told, only 37 percent of survey respondents claimed to have high financial literacy.

“This research underscores the critical need for innovative strategies to equip consumers with the tools and education required to effectively manage their financial lives,” said FINRA Foundation Chairman Richard Ketchum in a press release announcing the results. “My hope is that policymakers, researchers and advocates will use these findings to make more informed decisions about how to best reach underserved populations.”

It’s not all bad news for the nation and their finances. The report did find the percentage of people who are having no difficulty covering their expenses and bills each month increased to 48 percent in 2015 from 36 percent in 2009. The percentage of people with emergency funds is also on the uptick, increasing to 46 percent last year from 35 percent in 2009.

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