Home > Personal Finance > 10 Gloomy Stats About Our Financial Future

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


American adults, whether or not they had kids, aren’t very optimistic about young Americans’ futures, particularly when it comes to personal finance.

Respondents were seemingly in a sour mood when they were surveyed for the quarterly Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll. Of 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older, 64% said they believed the country is on the wrong track, and President Barack Obama received a 40% approval rating. That’s the lowest it has been since the poll began in April 2009. FTI Consulting conducted the poll from Sept. 3 to 7 and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.

On a positive note, the majority of respondents are generally in good spirits. When asked to consider all aspects of their lives, including personal finance, family and health, 82% of adults said their lives are going well. That’s the same as the responses in June. (Most questions in this poll had a “don’t know/refused” answer option.)

Youths presented a sunny disposition. The poll included an online survey of 13- to 18-year-olds for the first time, and they were optimistic about the economy. More than half of teens (54%) said they think it’s better to be a teenager now than it was when their parents were, and 45% think they’ll have more opportunities as adults than their parents have.

The adults, 77% of whom have children, did not agree. Given this sullen outlook on the future of America, we decided to highlight 10 finance-related statistics suitable for a Debbie Downer script.

10 Gloomy Outlooks on America’s Money Future

  1. 56% say their personal financial situation is only fair or poor. Only 7% say it is excellent.
  2. 43% say their personal finance situation will be the same next year. On the upside, 43% think their situation will improve. Unfortunately, 12% foresee things getting worse.
  3. 54% said it is not realistic for them to pay for their children’s college educations. Contributing to that number, 32% of adults said it is not at all realistic that they would pay for college.
  4. 49% say it is not realistic that they could afford six months of living expenses, in the event of an unexpected illness or job loss. Again, a large share of respondents say it’s not at all likely they could afford such a loss in income.
  5. 45% of adults think children will have less opportunity to get ahead when they reach their age. Unfortunately, only 20% think children will have more opportunity, and 30% think children will have the same amount as they have. It’s worth noting that the report showed responses from past quarters for questions outlined in Nos. 1 through 5. When compared to the responses from June 2013, responses related to these five statistics were more pessimistic in September.
  6. 39% see a college education as an economic burden that is often too expensive or requires taking on debt to pay for it. That’s certainly a depressing way to look at college. On the other hand, the majority (53%) saw it as the ticket to the middle class that helps people build successful careers.
  7. 53% think children will have less financial responsibility than they do. They also think these children will have inferior spending and saving habits.
  8. 62% think children will be less likely than they are to enjoy a comfortable retirement. For comparison, when adults were asked about their own retirement, 58% said they expect to maintain a comfortable standard of living when exiting the workforce.
  9. 68% think children will experience less financial security than their generation. This includes holding a steady job and owning a home without too much debt.
  10. 63% think children will show less work ethic, professional motivation and pride in their jobs than they do. Maybe that’s why adults think children will have such bleak financial futures. For the record, the majority also think children will be less patriotic, and many also think children will not fulfill civic and community responsibilities as they do — like voting and volunteering.

Here’s an 11th gloomy stat that’s not strictly finance related: Adults think it was better to be a kid and parent when they were kids.

This comes in two parts that almost amount to a “Back in my day …” cliché. When it comes to childhood in America, 79% of adults said it was better when they were children. And when comparing being a parent now and parenthood in a previous generation, 79% thought it was better to be a parent when their parents were raising kids.

Kids these days …

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team