Poll: More than 75% of U.S. adults feel stressed about finances
By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture
March 11, 2016
- More than 75 percent of U.S. adults say they’re stressed about finances
- More women than men say they are stressed about finances
- Women more likely than men to resolve to follow a budget
LITTLE ROCK – More than three-quarters of all adults in the United States say they are stressed about finances, however, a little planning can take some of the uncertainty out of day-to-day living, said Laura Hendrix.
“The Harris poll released in December said that 77 percent of U.S. adults said there is something that causes them financial stress,” said Hendrix, an extension personal finance expert for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Forty-two percent said debt caused them stress, while 51 percent said saving money was the stressor.”
The poll, conducted for the National Foundation for Financial Education, found that women were more likely than men – 79 percent vs. 74 percent – to say they felt stressed about finances.
When it comes to doing something about finances, women were much more likely than men – 48 percent vs. 37 percent – to say they would resolve to set and follow a budget.
De-stress by making a plan
Hendrix offers five steps to help take the stress out of day-to-day finances:
- Create a spending plan. “A spending plan is the best way to take control of your finances,” she said. “Eliminate worry by knowing exactly how much money you have coming in and going out.”
- Make saving automatic. “The easiest way to save is to make saving automatic and use direct deposit to have part of your paycheck to your savings account,” Hendrix said. “Participate in your employer provided retirement fund by designating a certain percentage or amount of your pay to go directly into the fund.” What if you don’t have direct deposit or a retirement fund? “Set up an automatic transfer to move a pre-determined amount from your checking account to your savings account and/or IRA,” she said. “Save for emergencies, retirement, holidays, vacation, college, a car, or other goals. Focus first on emergency and retirement savings, which are both critical to future financial security.”
- Use www.powerpay.org. Credit cards are easy to use but debt can snowball with increased spending and added interest. Deal with debt by establishing a repayment plan. Several methods are available. “One popular method is to pay off the lowest balance; then, add the amount of that monthly payment to your debt with the next lowest balance and so on,” Hendrix said. “Learn about debt repayment plans and use the online calculator to determine which method will work best for you at www.powerpay.org.”
- Build an emergency fund. “You’ll worry less when you know you have a safety net,” she said. “An emergency fund has you covered when life’s unexpected expenses pop up. Build an emergency fund and you won’t have to sweat it when you need new tires for your car or if the refrigerator breaks down or if your kids need supplies for a school project. Aim to save so you could cover 2 to 6 months expenses if you suffered a loss of income.”
- And finally -- Live within your income. Hendrix said this may sound simple, but sometimes it’s difficult to do. “Make sure that you aren’t spending more than you earn. Focus on paying for needs before wants. Pay off credit card balances monthly,” she said. “Living beyond your income puts you further behind with each passing month. You could end up feeling as if you’ll never catch up. Make changes now to cut expenses so that income is always more than outgo.”
The Cooperative Extension Service is your source for reliable, research-based information to improve quality of life. Discover the latest recommendations for creating a spending plan, managing credit, building your savings and investing for the future. Learn more at www.uaex.edu/life-skills-wellness/personal-finance.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service