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Survey Presents Shaky Picture of Consumer Financial Priorities

Phil Hall
Apr 13, 2016
While most Americans consider debt reduction to be a priority in their lives, average personal debt is on the rise, according to new findings from Northwestern Mutual's 2018 Planning & Progress Study

The precarious state of personal finances across the U.S. was detailed in NeighborWorks America’s third annual consumer financial capability household survey.

According to the survey, 21 percent of Americans are counting on their income tax refunds to pay off debt, while less than 10 percent will use their refunds to cover everyday expenses. The heavy reliance on the tax refunds was particularly acute among those earning less than $20,000 per year (19 percent of survey respondents) and Millennials (14 percent of respondents). Roughly 28 percent of respondents stated their refunds would be set aside for future savings.

Elsewhere in the survey, 26 percent of people cited paying bills as their primary financial priority, while 21 percent placed saving for retirement as their chief goal. Among income brackets, 35 percent of adults earning less than $40,000 and 49 percent of those earning less than $20,000 said that paying bills and every day expenses was their number one priority. Only five percent of adults earning less than $20,000 annually and seven percent of adults earning less than $40,000 per year put retirement savings first. At the other end of the financial spectrum, 33 percent of people earning more than $100,000 per year placed retirement at the top of their list of financial goals.

Among demographic groups, 11 percent of African-Americans and 13 percent of Hispanics listed retirement savings as their top monetary objective, while 30 percent of Asian-Americans and 25 percent of whites said that saving for retirement was their financial priority.

Published
Apr 13, 2016
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