Financial insecurity is about more than just how you spend your money. It’s a set of beliefs, attitudes towards looming issues like retirement, the state of their health, and comparisons to those who are considered financially well-off. YouGov examined this in-depth in a new report, “Perceptions of Financial Insecurity”

There is a stark divide in the country today between people who consider themselves “haves” and “have-nots.” When Americans were asked by YouGov if they considered themselves financially secure, 40% considered themselves secure, and 43% thought of themselves as financially insecure.

When you look at the numbers more closely, one in five (18%) “definitely disagree” that they feel financially secure.

Markers that tend to make people feel financially secure are no longer having a student loan (45%), owning a home outright (50%), and owning a home, even with a mortgage (44%). Other people said that financial security represented being free of debt, having enough money saved for retirement, and having a steady source of income.

The well-off 11%

Still, it’s hard to hit every marker, and only 11% of Americans “definitely agree” they are financially secure.

Of the 11% who “definitely agree” they are financially secure, 47% earned an income of $60,000 or more, and 60% had money in the stock market. Between the two choices, 65% were either full-time employed or retired.

This 11% also took care of their health. Over a third (37%) assessed their personal health as “excellent” and 44% said that on a scale from 1 to 5, healthy eating ranked a “5.”

The less-fortunate 18%

It’s the 18% of Americans that responded to YouGov that they “definitely disagreed” that they felt financially secure.

Twelve percent of this group was unemployed, and 46% of the group’s family income was up to, but not exceeding, $29,999. Nearly half (45%) was “very unconfident” that they would be able to have enough saved for retirement.

When it came to ranking their personal health, they were less confident than the well-off 11%, ranking their personal health at a very low 12%. When it came to how they ranked healthy eating, they deemed it “neither important nor unimportant.”

People who see themselves as financially insecure are less likely to own credit cards, savings accounts, and store credit cards. For example, 56% of those questioned by YouGov did not own credit cards, and 54% did not participate in a savings account.

For 18%, there is a great deal of anxiety and worry towards their financial state. A full 80% worry they’ll never be able to save for a rainy day, and 72% say they worry a lot in general. Nearly 71% of the respondents say they don’t take care of their health the way they should, and 68% say they experience anxiety about their life.

These numbers are reminiscent by research in the Chicago Booth Review that argues that “poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity.” The researchers argue that worries and tasks related to money take up all the poor person’s time, effort, and mental space, leaving little room for anything else.

Originally Published on The Ladders

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