Having a solid personal finance strategy takes a notable amount of effort, but Americans have varying degrees of success learning and sticking to these plans. This can be problematic, as not having the right financial strategy in place – and and failing to apply it in everyday life – may not help them achieve their goals.
More than 60 percent of Americans do not have any type of budget, according to a report conducted by Harris Poll for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. This can be problematic, especially when trying to make room for other payments. For example, approximately one-third of Americans are dealing with credit card debt carrying over from month to month.
Another 60 percent noted that they haven’t looked at their credit score in the past year, the report explained. Credit reports also weren’t popular with respondents, as 65 percent hadn’t viewed theirs in the past year. A total of 23 percent felt that since they already knew what their credit score was, so it wasn’t necessary to view their full report.
“Financial Literacy Month serves as a good reminder to check your credit report and score, since credit knowledge is such an important part of understanding personal finance,” said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for Experian Consumer Services. “In today’s environment, it’s especially important that consumers check their credit report regularly to spot signs of fraud and better understand what affects their credit so they can make informed financial decisions.”
Even issues regarding savings and spending lingered. The report showed that 16 percent worried most about not having an emergency fund that provided them with enough money to get through a difficult period. The same percentage said they were concerned they wouldn’t have enough money put away for retirement.
Despite this, just 29 percent of adults noted that they were spending less money, sizably lower than the 57 percent who said this in 2009, the report added.
Many people not saving enough money
Having enough money saved can be problematic for many Americans, especially if they run into some unforeseen trouble. According to a report from RetailMeNot.com, close to 50 percent of individuals don’t have enough money saved to hold them over for more than one month.
“A large percentage of people surveyed report they are living without any sort of financial safety net,” said Trae Bodge, senior editor for The Real Deal by RetailMeNot. “Saving money is just one part of the financial literacy equation. It is also important that consumers spend wisely to be able to afford the items they need. Making small adjustments to shopping behaviors, like utilizing discounts for everyday purchases, in addition to putting away even a small amount each month, are important steps toward achieving overall financial health.”
Some Americans have financial issues
Even with some people looking to improve their financial strategy, issues remain. A report from Experian noted that the average debt level among Americans is $27,887, with Generation X and baby boomers dealing with the highest levels.
“While this study looked at all four generations, we found that Millennials are in need of the most guidance to improve and build their overall credit health,” said Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics at Experian. “The younger generation are still building their credit, but with the right combination of experience, credit education and choosing credit offers wisely, the 20’s can be used as a time to demonstrate creditworthiness and build a positive credit history.”
Millennials still had a debt average of $23,332, which was second to last, the report added. The greatest generation has the lowest level, an average of just $23,245.