April 15, 2024
7 in 10 U.S. adults surveyed are stressed about money, CNBC finds. Here’s how you can feel financially secure – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


  • Feeling financially secure can mean many things, among them peace of mind about your money situation, earning enough to both cover bills and save for the future, or having resources to weather an unexpected expense.
  • Among U.S. respondents in a new CNBC survey, some of the most common components to feeling financially secure included having no outstanding debts (59%), high levels of savings (47%) and owning their own home (45%).
  • Here’s how boosting your money knowledge can help you feel more financially secure, according to members of the CNBC Global Financial Wellness Advisory Board.

In your quest to feel financially secure, don’t discount financial literacy as a tool.

CNBC’s International Your Money Financial Security Survey polled roughly 500 people each in nine countries. Of the 498 people surveyed in the U.S., 70% reported feeling “very” or “somewhat” stressed about their personal finances. The poll was conducted by SurveyMonkey.

Top sources of that stress include several factors outside consumers’ control, including inflation (65%), economy-wide instability (35%) and high interest rates (27%). Others pointed to elements in their personal situation such as a lack of savings (44%), credit card debt (26%) or a layoff or loss of income (16%).

Boosting your money knowledge can be empowering, members of the CNBC Global Financial Wellness Advisory Board say, particularly when you’re trying to achieve financial security in tough economic conditions.

“Financial education is like being able to swim,” said Annamaria Lusardi, founder and academic director of the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, or GFLEC. “It’s a good skill and it becomes of particular importance when you end up in a storm.”

Security ‘means different things to different people’

There’s no one set definition for financial security.

“It means different things to different people, and it means different things to different people at different parts of our lives,” said Laura Levine, president and CEO of the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

Depending on who you ask, it might mean feeling peace of mind about your money situation, earning enough to both cover bills and save for the future, or having resources to weather an unexpected expense.

“Getting to a place of financial security for some is just having some dollars put away for emergencies,” said Billy J. Hensley, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education, or NEFE. “That goes a long way to relieving stress.”

Among U.S. respondents in the CNBC survey, some of the most common components to feeling financially secure included having no outstanding debts (59%), accumulating “high levels” of savings (47%) and owning their own home (45%).

When it comes to achieving that security, 44% of U.S. respondents said the most important part is spending less than you make, followed by 29% who point to having a steady, well-paid job.

Just understanding that financial security is a highly personal goal — and one that doesn’t necessarily require significant income or assets — can help you feel more secure, said Levine. For example, she said, if a person can say, “I’m not a millionaire, but I can pay my bills and feed my family,” that may represent financial security for them.

Money knowledge plays an ‘important role’

Studies show that learning more about money can improve your financial situation.

“There is an important role for financial literacy here,” said GFLEC’s Lusardi, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and director of the Initiative for Financial Decision-Making.

The TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index, which has been conducted annually since 2017, includes questions to gauge respondents’ basic financial knowledge as well as queries into their personal money habits and well-being.

Among other outcomes, consumers who got high scores on the financial literacy questions were significantly less likely than those with low scores to have difficulty making ends meet in a typical month, to lack emergency savings or to be unable to come up with $2,000 to cover an unexpected expense, according to the 2023 report.

People tend to put their newfound financial knowledge to use quickly, which shows in how they approach decisions, said NEFE’s Hensley.

“There’s a confidence that comes with knowing,” Hensley said.

As with investments, even small improvements can compound, he said — motivating you to keep going.

Here are three moves that can help you learn more about money and feel more financially secure in the process:

  • Talk about money: Many people find it difficult to talk to friends and family about money. But keeping your struggles and goals a “hidden, secret thing” holds you back, said Yanely Espinal, director of educational outreach for Next Gen Personal Finance. “The moment you start opening up talking with other people … that in and of itself can help you feel more financially secure because you know you’re not alone in this,” she said.
  • Seek advice: “People assume that financial literacy means understanding everything yourself,” said Jump$tart’s Levine. But really, Hensley said, “it helps you understand what you can manage and when to ask for help.” Looping in a financial advisor, counselor or other expert can help you fuel your knowledge and make progress toward your goals.
  • Make a plan: Mapping out how you’ll use newfound financial knowledge can be powerful, considering many elements of financial security can take time to achieve, Espinal said. For example, laying out a timeline and strategies you’ll employ to pay off debt can boost your confidence long before you zero out that balance. “That alone creates a sense of security,” she said. “It contributes to that sense of, ‘I am on that path.'”

(Espinal, Hensley, Levine and Lusardi are all members of the CNBC Global Financial Wellness Advisory Board.)



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