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The Biggest Financial Worries


More than half of Americans are worried about their personal finances, but it's still the lowest level since before the recession. Plus, middle-aged Americans are the most likely to worry about various personal finance matters.

More than half of Americans are worried about their personal finances, but it’s still the lowest level since before the recession, according to Gallup.

A new poll showed that 53% of Americans are highly or moderately worried about their finances, down from last year’s peak of 61%. This is the lowest result since only 45% were worried in 2007.

The poll asks Americans how much they worry about eight different personal financial matters: retirement; maintaining their current standard of living; paying for normal medical costs; paying medical costs for a serious illness/accident; paying monthly bills; paying for children’s college; paying housing costs; and making the minimum payments on credit cards.

Respondents are most worried about having enough for retirement with 61% reporting they are very/moderately worried and paying medical costs for a serious illness or accident is a close second (58%). They’re the least concerned about credit cards with 61% saying they weren’t too/at all worried.

According to Gallup, retirement has been the top worry all 13 times this poll has been held.

“Americans are becoming less worried about a range of financial matters and, in a broad sense, are less worried about their personal finances now than at any time since the 2008-2009 recession,” according to Gallup. “Still, the level of financial worry remains elevated to pre-recession levels, even as the economy is improving in many respects, including home values and stock values.”

In a separate, but similar, poll, Gallup found that middle-aged Americans are more likely to worry about personal financial issues. On seven different matters those aged 50 to 64 were as likely as or more likely than those aged 30 to 49 to worry about the financial problem. The only issue where the younger age group worries more is paying for children’s college.

Three of the four age groups (18 to 29, 30 to 49 and 50 to 64) all reported being the most worried about not having enough for retirement. The 65-plus age group is less worried about this, although it is still the second biggest concern. For this age group, the biggest concern was being able to pay medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident. Those aged 18 to 29 are actually equally worried about this issue as they are about retirement.

“Middle-aged Americans generally worry more about personal financial issues than do young adults or seniors,” according to Gallup. “Presumably, young Americans have yet to face many of the financial challenges that come with having a family or buying a home, while older Americans are mostly retired and are receiving Social Security and Medicare, and anticipate fewer life changes that would disrupt their financial situations.”

The poll also revealed that while the more money an American makes, the less likely he or she is to worry, these high-income earners are not sheltered from financial worries. For some financial problems, the difference between the amounts of worry felt by people of various incomes was very small.

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