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SafeMoney.com Blog

heres why america needs financial wakeup call

If consumer studies give any indication, America needs a financial wake-up call.

A lack of consumer financial awareness is taking a toll nationwide, as InvestmentNews covers in a recent story. And the effects of what the advisory news publisher calls a “financial literacy crisis” are significant.

Almost two-thirds of people shows signs of low financial awareness, according to FINRA. Financial advisors also recognize the challenge. In a survey by InvestmentNews, 78% of advisors strongly agreed that financial literacy is of national concern.   

WalletHub reports that the average household credit card debt is the highest it has been in nearly a decade. Financial stress is affecting work productivity, according to a recent survey of 10,000 employees by Salary Financial.

Nearly one in two Americans (48%) said they worry about their finances, leading to sleep loss, distractions at work, and other disruptors in work performance. The survey drew responses from employees ranging from entry-level to C-suite professionals.

In turn, this wave of personal financial stress costs U.S. businesses $500 billion per year in lost productivity, Salary Financial estimates.

And the washout from lower financial awareness isn’t limited to just working-age Americans, either.

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gen xers sandwiched between multiple priorities

“The Breakfast Club” was a classic coming-of-age film. The stars of the movie? Gen X misfits dreaming of their futures during a fateful day-long detention in their high school library.

What they couldn’t have foreseen is that many Gen Xers would grow up to be responsible not only for their own well-being, but for the care and livelihood of their parents and their grown children as well.

So, if a sequel about Gen Xers was made today, it might be called “The Breakfast Sandwich Club.” And why? Many members of Gen X struggle to plan for their own futures while facing the financial impact of caring for the generations before and after them.

Survey Paints a Startling Picture

Balancing the competing priorities of financial support for family members means that Gen Xers are having a hard time with their own financial wellbeing. Researchers found that especially applied to building up both their emergency funds and retirement savings, according to a new survey released by PNC Financial Services.

“The survey revealed that current members of the sandwich generation, as well as those we call ‘half sandwich’ – folks caring for either children or elderly parents, but not both – are under financial stress. They’re struggling to save for their own needs,” according to Rich Ramassini, a director at PNC Investments.

“Adding the demands associated with financially supporting children and/or elderly family members now or in the future, paints a very grim picture for this demographic unless they take immediate action.”

PNC says it commissioned the survey to understand how respondents, who were between the ages of 36 to 60, handle financial decisions and any related stress involving investing and retirement.

Those interviewed were either the main financial decision-makers or they shared financial decision-making duties in their household, PNC explained.

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