LOS ANGELES and PHILADELPHIA (9/12/14)--Two recent studies--one by GOBankingRates.com and one from the Pew Research Center--capture the sentiment that Americans continue to be stressed about the economy and fearful for the financial futures.
A third of respondents to a recent GOBankingRates.com poll said they worry about their finances "all the time."
When asked to select their top three fears from a list of 10, four financial fears--always living paycheck to paycheck, falling into serious debt, becoming homeless and losing a job--made up 66% of the responses.
"When money problems comes up, we are forced to consider every aspect of our lives falling apart instead of just one or two. It is all subconscious but it is huge," said Leisa Peterson, certified financial planner and founder of WealthClinic.
Of the financial fears, being unemployed led with 27%--the most common fear among 18- to 24-year-olds at 30%. The next highest fear of never getting out of debt--26%--was selected most often by those older than 45.
Although the employment market is improving slightly, overall consumer sentiment about the economy is bleak, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center.
Incomes that are lagging behind the cost of living concern 56% of the respondents, which is almost in line with those who said their incomes were falling behind--57%--in October 2008 during the financial crisis.
Among those families with less than $30,000 per year, 66% have confronted as least one serious financial problem such as becoming unemployed or having hours cut, being unable to pay for health care, struggling to pay rent or mortgage, or having been contacted by a collection agency. Overall, 45% say they have experienced one or more such serious financial hardships over the last year.
Cost of living concerns run along the lines of income differences. Of those with family incomes of $75,000 or more, most say they are at least keeping pace with the cost of living. Among those with incomes of $100,000 or more, 48% are staying even.
However, in the two lowest income categories, respondents say they are not keeping up. More than half of those with family incomes between $30,000 and $75,000 say they are falling behind, and just under 40% are staying even. For those with incomes under $30,000, 70% say they are falling behind.