These Are The Top Financial Concerns Of Ordinary Americans

Tyler Durden's picture

While institutional investors and money managers have a very specific list of worries when it comes to their "financial concerns" such as Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), monthly/quarterly performance and redemption requests, losing top traders, what the year end bonus will be, order fill slippage, being frontrun by HFT algos, what the Fed chairwoman may say any given day, whether it is 3:30pm or if it is a Tuesday, ordinary Americans have a far simpler list of concerns. According to a recent Gallup poll, the one thing that has most Americans very/moderately worried is "whether or not they have enough money for retirement."

The list of the top concerns is presented below:


In a country in which the economy is barely sputtering, and where all the benefits from 5+ years of QE have accrued exclusively to the top 1% of wealthy, that nearly two-thirds of society is concerned about its retirement prospects will hardly come as a surprise.

Going down the list, the next highest concern, not being able to pay medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident, worries 53% of Americans. This is down from a record high of 62% in 2012.

Third on the list of Americans' top financial worries is not being able to maintain the standard of living they enjoy, with nearly half of the country's adults citing this concern. Together, retirement savings, unexpected medical costs, and maintaining one's standard of living typically top the list of the eight financial items that Gallup has tracked annually since 2001. Concerns about all three are down modestly from two years ago, but are still higher than they were before the Great Recession.

The good news is that according to the latest poll, all of the top three concerns are well below expressed levels at any time since the collapse of Lehman. Still, with the stock market at all time highs, one would expect that people who are "very" concerned about any of these three prospects would be at a record low. Alas, it is nowhere near such levels.

Going down the list, from Gallup:

Notably, four in 10 American adults say they are very or moderately worried about not having enough money to pay off their debt. This is the first time Gallup has included this financial issue. With as much as $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt circulating in the U.S. today -- not to mention other prevalent types of debt such as credit cards -- debt concerns are clearly weighing on a significant proportion of the country.


Of the nine concerns tested, the bottom two concerns -- not being able to pay one's rent or mortgage, and not being able to make minimum payments on credit card bills -- are those most likely to indicate immediate insolvency. This finding suggests that most common financial problems are related more to savings and future expenditures than day-to-day living.

As also would be expected, different age groups have different concerns. The top problem for the broadly defined group of middle-aged Americans -- those aged 30 to 64 -- is not having enough money for retirement, in line with previous findings. For this group, about seven in 10 worry about not having enough money for retirement.

Young Americans aged 18 to 29 worry most about paying medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident (52%), perhaps a result of the comparatively high uninsured rate for younger Americans or the lack of savings typically characterizing that age group. An equal share of 18- to 29-year-olds (52%) say they are worried about being able to maintain their standard of living. And nearly half of 18- to 29-year-olds worry about being able to pay off debt, perhaps a consequence of the massive amount of student loan debt that many young adults carry. Possibly befitting their youth and their longer distance in years from retirement, this group is least concerned about having enough money when they retire compared with other age groups -- despite dire predictions about the future of Medicare and Social Security.

Older Americans, those aged 65 or older, also worry most about being able to pay medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident, though few in this age group lack health insurance. However, given the formidable cost of protracted, continual medical care that often characterizes older Americans' later years, many senior citizens may feel their health insurance alone cannot handle such a financial burden. Generally speaking, though, senior citizens are much less concerned about most of these financial problems than are their younger counterparts. The majority of older Americans appear to have retirement financing under control; 37% worry about having enough money in their retirement, by far the lowest percentage of any age group. Senior citizens are least concerned about not having enough money to pay for their children's college education (8%) -- presumably because older Americans already faced that challenge.

Curiously, for Americans across all age groups, the ability to make minimum payments on credit card bills does not generate much concern. Perhaps because as they have seen their host nation do time and again, when one gets that third overdue bill, one can simply roll over the amount due to a different credit card company, or simpler yet, default. After all it is only a matter of time before such activity is fully endorsed by Obama's "fairness doctrine."

Gallup's conclusion:

Retirement may be a time that many working adults look forward to, but it is paradoxically a source of stress in the here and now. A strong majority of Americans, particularly those aged 30 to 64, worry about having enough money for retirement, and this concern has regularly topped the list of Americans' top financial problems. The only other personal financial concern that a majority of Americans are very or moderately worried about is the ability to pay medical costs in the event of a serious accident or illness.


For a country that now has a life expectancy at birth of 78.7 years, retirement savings for post-work years is considered a matter of national importance. These concerns led President Barack Obama to propose a retirement savings account for working adults -- MyRA -- during this year's State of the Union address. It remains to be seen whether this new type of savings plan, which will be available in late 2014, will ultimately alleviate some Americans' concerns about retirement.

The answer, of course, is no and as with any other such "no risk, guaranteed return" instrument the outcome will be a disaster of epic proportions. But we'll cross that bridge when central-planning takes us to it. In the meantime, just BTFD, or alternatively, BTFATH, and hope for the best. After all, in a market as rigged and manipulated as this one, hope (and prayer) is without doubt the best, and probably only, strategy.

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HedgeAccordingly's picture

 JPM CFO Ruth Porat on high-frequency trading and regulation from Milken 


StacksOnStacks's picture

My Silver is my retirement savings.  

RevRex's picture

When my pension is stolen from me, I'll recover the guns I lost in that unfortunate marine mishap, and start shooting some motherfuckers up and taking what I want.....'s a retirement plan.....maybe not a good one.....

Surly Bear's picture

Not being able to heat my house or buy food.

knukles's picture

Well that about says it all, don't it?
Guess I'm not the only one shitting little bricks anymore, eh?

I'd a answered every one of them as a concern.
Let alone my family size cereal boxes becoming single servings.  I can't wait for the smaller cat food cans.

And the DoJ is investigating racial biases in arrests in 5 cities while the Fed and its Merry Banksters run amok

cifo's picture

Does anyone still give a fock about what "ordinary Americans" think?

SumTing Wong's picture

The collapse of the USD.

Not being able to buy enough PMs to make me happy.

Holding too much fiat when SHTF rather than switching it all out for useful stuff.

Not being able to buy ammo because some shithead in the gov't bought it all. 


Yes, we are the 1%...those who think...and not the top 1% of income earners.

James_Cole's picture

Now that's a sobering list.

Supafly's picture

Our concerns:

1. Not being able to sit on our ass.

2. Can't continue to subsidize an overinflated healthcare system.

3.  No pineapple out of season.

4. Can't pay for what they shouldn't have bought anyway.

5.  See # 3.

6.  Can't be short sighted.

7.  Can't spend 50k so our kids can wait tables.

8.  Ok, that one's legit.

9.  Um, uh, #4


Anusocracy's picture

9. The cinch is too tight on my saddle.

8. The bit in my mouth hurts.

7. My oats in my feedbag are stale.

6. My rider is too heavy.

5. Those spurs hurt my ribs.

4. His whip is making my ass sore.

3. There aren't enough oats.

2. The carrot on the string is getting further away.

1. Why am I going down this chute at the slaughterhouse?

walküre's picture

Brilliant! Horsemeat, it's what's for dinner!

Anusocracy's picture

Most ordinary Americans don't think.

Their heads are filled with unthought thoughts.

HardAssets's picture

Interestingly, Complete Global Economic Collapse and Thermonuclear WW3 are not on that list.

If more people were aware of the possibility for those to occur, they would worry less about the other things on their list.

Kinda like forgetting a hangnail when your other hand is slammed by a sledge hammer.

IndyPat's picture

Good thoughts exactly.

I was inspired to check the nuclear "doomsday clock" of yesteryear to see what it said.

Page not found. Oh nooz!!!

That ain't good. Looks like ze clock scientists already hit ze bunker and forgot to wind ze clock!

blindman's picture

"...DISCLAIMER: We bear no grudge against the original US dollar that was backed by the gold standard. We have no quarrel with the US Government (with the exception of the outgoing and incoming administrations), and we harbor only good will toward the American people. It is the Federal Reserve System, and its fatally flawed practice of debt-driven, fractional reserve banking that is the object of our scorn and derision. Likewise, it is the Federal Reserve Bank (FED) that deserves our condemnation and searing criticism. Why? Because the FED is not legitimate. It is not a properly constituted or legislated organ of government, and is actually a privately owned consortium of banking agents whose ownership is more foreign than domestic. The FED is legally unfit to conduct business on behalf of the American people since, as a private entity, it lacks the congressional oversight necessary when appropriated funds have been allocated by the legislative branch of government. The printing presses of the FED produce notes – as in promissory notes – which are nothing but instruments of indebtedness for all who possess them. Not too unlike credit cards, actually. Therefore, the money that it prints is counterfeit. Is it surprising that an international, privately owned crime syndicate, which issues fake money, would be the biggest player in the worldwide funny money monopoly game that is bringing the entire world of commerce, finance and business to a virtual standstill? We are talking about the greatest financial crisis in recorded history, you know?!? And the FED is institutional PUBLIC ENEMY #1 responsible for this multi-decade crime spree."
from link above.
The FOUR HORSEMEN Herald the Death Knell of Predatory Capitalism
Posted on July 7, 2012 by cosmicconvergence2012

A Nanny Moose's picture

Yatzee!!! That this did not make the list, goes to show you how preoccupied the tax livestock of the USSA have become, with a bunch of redundant horseshit. Thank the brainfarts of Eddy Bernays.

FFS. Retirement merely means one of your hobbies becomes your new job. Healthcare is more about diet (back to food) than doctors.

HardAssets's picture

Well I love hunting in the high mountain backcountry (rifle sometimes, more often with bow)

so if it gets really bad, I guess I'lll get to do fulltime what I was only able to do on break and vacations before.

TrustbutVerify's picture

You bought into the idea of a pension plan? 

logicalman's picture

I've always made a living doing something I enjoy, so retirement has never looked too attractive.

Once I can't do what I enjoy, I can hopefully leave the planet in a dignified manner.

IndyPat's picture

Does shivering in a cattle car count as dignified?

Flux's picture

Well said, Logic.

It's important to point out that the vast majority of readers on Zero Hedge are marginalized US citizens who make $30-$40K a year.

I suspect few have any savings, and their jobs are shit.

This site appeals to this demographic. Doom, gloom, collapses, war, financial meltdowns all sound very appealing to losers that hate their life and want it to end for everyone. This site pulls in over a million USD a month. It's worth over $80M. It knows its audience well.

Zero Hedge is a product that is lapped up all too eagerly by the disenfranchised.

I'm here strictly for entertainment. I would urge others to take the same approach.

Now, anyone reading this should turn the internet off and get some sunshine. Life is short, don't waste it pining away for the end of the world.


IndyPat's picture

Glad others misery keeps you entertained.
Say hello to Soros for me.

walküre's picture

+1 for your suggestion ZH readers pull in 30 to 40 large a year. Nice thought, but we're not that rich.

Confused's picture

Theres is an awful lot of new users posting on this site. 


13 weeks? Surely you know the site has evolved to reflect the times. 


Entertainment? Go to Huffpo, CNN, etc comments section. 

Pee Wee's picture

Your pension is already gone. 

Record bonuses have to come from somewhere, and truth is your pension was never there.  Paper promises and fraud retire, you do not.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

If I can't fit into the kids' igloo, I expect to hang out on a floating piece of ice and bait polar bears.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

bear bater

future occupation for most retirees.

You don't have to outrun the bear, just everybody else in the bears field of vision.

robertsgt40's picture

Correct stacks. How will you be able to figure how Mich you'll need for retirement when the dollar is being debased at record pace. Forget your 401k and retirement accounts. They can and will be vaporized with a mouse click or bail-in.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

retirment = too many unpopulated variables.

price of oil?

will there be a functioning powergrid?

will the reactors melt down when the grid goes down ala fukushima

how much radiation can i survive.

how often can ibathe once we no longer have hot water?

will i have to learn Spanish,russian or Chinese?

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

I too am on that plan, i suppose. at age 29, the retirement one is my biggest concern right now. I have a little credit card debt, not too big of a deal, but looking out longer than 2 years, retirement is my biggest concern.... how to not have to be an 80 year old greeter at walmart. Starting with the premise that social security will not exist for me, that one is written off, even though i have to turn over thousands of my money to it. Can't really trust the stock market, Im not a trader, nor one who has the time or inclination to study charts, etc.(whats the point nowadays, no HFT for me)and 'buy and hold' doesnt really work anymore, as it did for prior generations. Hiding cash under your matress is one option, which means you will forfeit a portion of your purchasing power to the gov/fed each and every day. Ill pass. That pretty much leaves gold and silver. Save 12-15%(best I can do right now) a year of my income in gold and silver, at least as long as I am able to exchange FRNs for G/S. If/when FRNs arent accepted anymore, especially for PMs, I suppose ill have to think of something else

James_Cole's picture

i suppose. at age 29, the retirement one is my biggest concern right now. 

Retirement?? Humans are entering a period of such rapid and far reaching change worrying about an event 30+ yrs down the road is completely pointless.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

"worrying about an event 30+ years down the road is completely pointless"

No, it isnt. regardless of what happened WRT currencies, etc, it is never pointless to plan for the future. I am doing what i can to plan for the future, can't trust anything else. and it (40 years?)has far reaching consequences. I have no control over what happens in the future, if you have a better idea on how to plan for the future, please let me know. from what i have read of your comments in the past, Im sure your idea will involve more govt

walküre's picture

At age 29, I guarantee you that your future is somewhere along the yellow brick road. Retirement is neither for you nor for me at age 45. We will be working until the lights go out and why not?

Have you seen the geezers on the golf course? Ridiculous. Back slapping, high fiving and laughing at each others dumb jokes as if any of them really gives a fuck about the other guy.

Work a couple hours a day now and live while you're young. Keep working all the time and live a frugal life. Doesn't mean you can't get to enjoy a good wine or grass fed steaks once in a while. Don't buy toys or buy into the next best money making scheme. Live every day like it's your last. Cancer or other severe illness can hit you out of nowhere at any age and bang, that's it amigo. All the worrying about the future for nothing.

JUST LIVE and breathe easy. Don't take anything for granted It's freeing.

Pee Wee's picture

Your advice is totally meaningless with the Fascist fuckshop in charge of the world..

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

i think his advice is even more meaningful with a fascist fuckshop in charge.

Villageidiot777's picture

At age 29 I think the reason why the world is in this mess, because people didn't care to think about their future.

Pee Wee's picture

People have nothing to do with it.

Fraud and incorporated lawlessness ate your retirement.  The bad has crowded out the good and you get nothing. Get over it.

Raging Debate's picture

James_Cole - I agree we will see amazing technological advances in the next 30 years, we are nearing the last short cycles of our human evolution. Still, lets say in 2025 we begin exploring 4D, can get all answers about all infectious diseases for cures, how to build a dynamic system of economic and political management, etc. Implementation will take a couple to a few decades to implement. Human imperfection will drag this out longer than we hope.

At 43, I am planning for retirement. I give it a 30% shot medical advances will keep me alive until 120 to perhaps artificially enter 4D. Such would still be the death of body and personality in my opinion since 4D is less than a planck length in diameter I theorize what can be done is seed a portion of our DNA code there. Seeding seems to be how life works, perhaps a slightly different paradigm there. Cant be radically different or we could not have made enough collective observations to be punching into 4D with the quantum computer.

The natural process is death, all man can do is replicate and manipulate what already exists in nature.

Jugdish's picture

Why don't you stop being a little Nancy boy "worrying anout retirement" and start preparing for you know what is comng. Buy some lead and start jogging.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

come on, people. you say that as if i am a non-gunowner who rides around on a scouter as i grab cookies off the snack food aisle at wal mart. based on what i have said here in the past, do you not think i have those two things covered? come on

Jugdish's picture

Carl. Nobody liikes a Nancy boy that rides a hova-around at Walmart.

Raging Debate's picture

Greenskeeper Carl - Good question. I like how you think past this cycle of hard difficluty because even if 1/3 dies the rest goes on and if you hedged a little, say to eat and defend yourself for a few months it is unlikely you'll be in that 1/3.

I like PM's and I like real estate. The days of double digit price rises are over, at least in my lifetime. However, consider buying a home within means, no more expenditure than 25% of your income. Bank enough to pay six months of a mortgage if/when difficulties arise.

If you have a starter home, consider RE for rental income. Go slow, all gains will come slowly for a good long time. Start with one duplex or condo or small home to rent out. Get the feel for it, but certainly map out expected returns on paper first over a 5 and 10 year period.

Consider opening a small business in a couple years. Wait and see how government begins incentiviIng small business growth. Income producing business is great. But as a small guy the laws toward big and connected have to be ammended (lawmakers pass new bills almost never ammend old ones). You'll start to see this in the media soon enough but it isn't time yet. Write a business plan, do your research on competitors! No plan and research your chance of failure is 70%. You can get software which guides you how to write a business plan and make considerations/forecasts.

I hope this was useful.

Ewe235's picture



Rule #1 - Good Cardio.


Rule #2 - Doubletap.




chumbawamba's picture

I see a Top Ten list of Misplaced Priorities.

I am Chumbawamba.

Rainman's picture

yah .. poontang's not even on the list

RevRex's picture

Poontang is Obama's pet name for Reggie's manpussy.....or is it the other way around?

knukles's picture

Why does everybody think Obie is gay?

NuckingFuts's picture

And even if he was I can think of of hundreds of things to knock him for besides that. Who cares where a man sticks it as long as everyone is an adult.

That being said, the POTUS is queer as six fingers.