Site icon Mid Oregon View


Poll: Americans Display Concern, Optimism With Financial Well-Being: Older couple pleased with paperwork using laptop

Denver—The National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) continues to monitor the condition of Americans by polling on financial well-being indicators at key moments in time since the COVID-19 crisis began. NEFE’s recent survey is the latest in a series spanning a 16-month period that overlaps the pandemic in the U.S. While not fully comparative due to adjustments in some questions, the timing of the polls (June 2021 , December 2020, September 2020 and April 2020) mirror times in which many Americans were weighing their level of financial stress and making important decisions about their finances, directly or indirectly related to the pandemic.

“It is our duty as champions of effective financial education to identify how Americans are feeling about their economic present and future at key moments in time. Our polling supplements the other work we do to assist policymakers and practitioners in our field,” says Billy Hensley, Ph.D., president and CEO of NEFE. “These latest results, combined with trends identified in previous polling, highlight the need for more diligent work to aid the plight of those most in need of financial well-being resources and interventions, including financial education.”

More Are Feeling Better Compared to End of 2020

Overall, recent polling indicates more Americans are feeling better about the quality of their financial life now, relative to their expectations, compared to the end of 2020. The proportion of Americans reporting feeling that their financial life is “worse than [they] expected it to be” decreased from 32 percent in December 2020 to 23 percent in June 2021, while the proportion reporting “better than what [they] expected it to be” increased from 15 percent in December 2020 to 27 percent in June 2021. In June 2021, over three quarters (77 percent) of Americans said the quality of their financial life is what they expected or better. The latest poll was commissioned at the end of June 2021 and conducted online by The Harris Poll.

Through further analysis, 85 percent of Americans did confirm some part of their personal finances is causing them stress right now, with the most common concerns being “having enough in emergency savings” (37 percent); “having enough saved for retirement” (31 percent); “paying health care bills” (22 percent); “job security” (among those employed, 22 percent); “paying off/down credit card debt” (21 percent); and “paying rent or mortgage” (21 percent). After combining several stressors related to savings and paying bills, 56 percent report that having enough saved is a top stressor and 44 percent report that paying bills is a top stressor. However, among these top stressors, the only financial stressor with an increase from previous polls was having enough saved for retirement.

When asked how concerned they are right now about their personal financial situation, a larger proportion of Americans are now reporting “not at all/not that concerned” than in 2020 polls, and a smaller proportion are reporting “extremely/very concerned” while “somewhat concerned” remains relatively constant. [In the April 2020 and September 2020 administration, the question started with “Considering the COVID-19 outbreak,” which was omitted from the June 2021 administration cycle; for this reason, use caution when comparing across survey administration cycles.]

Over One Quarter Worried About Future Financial Well-Being

When individuals consider their future financial situation, over one quarter (29 percent) think they will feel “very/somewhat worried” about their financial situation 12 months from now, while over two in five (42 percent) think they will feel “very/somewhat optimistic.”

“This data provide an interesting snapshot due to both its results and timing. It came as the economy was steadily improving, before mainstream discussions of COVID-19 variants, the need for additional virus prevention policies and decisions on whether the eviction moratorium was still needed. Americans were potentially the most optimistic they had been in over a year about the direction of their financial well-being, and we were able to capture that sentiment,” Hensley adds.

Read more on the latest financial well-being poll and view charts here, and view past well-being polls here.

Survey Methodology

The June 2021 survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of NEFE between June 28-30, 2021, among 2,073 adults ages 18 and older. The December 2020 survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of NEFE between December 10-14, 2020, among 2,064 adults ages 18 and older. The September 2020 survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of NEFE between September 14-16, 2020, among 2,049 adults ages 18 and older. The April 2020 survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of NEFE between April 7-9, 2020, among 2,018 adults ages 18 and older. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, income and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About NEFE

The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) champions effective financial education. NEFE is the independent, centralizing voice providing leadership, research and collaboration to advance financial well-being. As one of the first organizations to embark on the mission of wholly dedicating its efforts on improving the effectiveness of financial education, NEFE continues its legacy of strengthening action-oriented research agendas, mobilizing intermediaries, and creating better solutions for researchers, educators, practitioners and policymakers. For more information, visit

Exit mobile version