How Financially Secure Are You?
Everyone has something that torments them. You know, that thing that keeps you up at night — worrying, analyzing, and thinking about what you could have done differently. For some people, it’s a concern like relationship problems or stress at work, and for others, it’s money problems. Seventy-three percent of Americans say that money problems are a primary source of their stress.
Over the past several years, we’ve come to learn more and more about how financial difficulties plague the middle class — we no longer associate such difficulties solely with low-income holders. What does your financial situation look like today?
Bankrate just released its financial security index charts for September. From September 4 through 7, Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted telephone interviews with just over 1,000 U.S. adults. The results of the surveys indicate that, overall, our financial security has improved. This time last year, the financial security index was less than 100 (it was 99.5) and during the past two months, the index sat at 100.1. September’s index is 100.4, an overall increase when compared to last year.
What does this mean? Well, an index of 100 means Americans feel the same level of financial security as they did 12 months ago. If the index is less than 100, this represents a lower level of financial security relative to 12 months ago. This month’s index of 100.4 means we feel more financially secure when compared to last year.
The Bankrate surveys also asked respondents specific questions pertaining to their net worth, job security, and other factors relating to financial security. Let’s see how you compare to the survey respondents.
The housing market
According to Zillow, “the median home value in the United States is $175,600. United States home values have gone up 6.6 percent over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 3.1 percent within the next year.”
This time last year, 55 percent of survey respondents correctly predicted that home values would increase, and 9 percent incorrectly projected a decline in housing values. This year, 53 percent of survey respondents agree with Zillow’s prediction that home values will go up during the next year. What do you think?
Job security and financial security go hand in hand for most people who rely on employment as a stable income source. Do you feel more secure in your job than you did 12 months ago? One in four people (26 percent) said they feel better about their job security than they did last year, while 14 percent of respondents feel less secure in their jobs. The largest portion — 59 percent of respondents — said they feel about the same as last year.
With gender equality in the workplace still being a topic of discussion, perhaps we should note the job security disparity between men and women. Thirty-three percent of men said they feel more job security relative to 12 months ago, while only 18 percent of women report higher levels of job security. People without children and those nearing retirement also report more job security concerns than their younger peers with children.
Savings and debt
When compared to last year, how comfortable do you feel with the amount of savings you have accumulated? Do you feel you are doing better with savings? What about your debt — are you doing better or worse in that department? Savings was the one major area where the survey respondents showed the least confidence overall, with 35 percent of respondents reporting lower comfort levels in their savings than last year. Only 19 percent of respondents said they feel better about their savings today than they did one year ago. Most people — 43 percent — said they felt about the same.
When asked about their debt, the majority — 53 percent — of the survey respondents reported feeling about the same as last year in this area, also. However, there were some confidence differences among men and women here, as well. More men (26 percent) reported higher levels of comfort with their debt than did women (18 percent).
Net worth is a prime indicator of financial health and stability. Bankrate asked participants to calculate net worth as “your total assets, including any real estate equity, minus your debts.” Is your net worth higher or lower than it was last year?
Twenty-seven percent of participants said their net worth was higher than last year, while only 20 percent reported a lower net worth. Again, a large portion — 50 percent — said their net worth was about the same.
When Bankrate asked about overall financial health, the results were very close, as 27 percent of participants said they feel better about their finances than last year, and 26 percent said they feel worse than last year. Again, men reported higher levels of confidence and comfort with their net worths and overall financial situations than did women.