Not sure how much money you have—or how much you owe? You’re far from alone, according to a new study from Prudential, the financial services company. The study shows that many American families are struggling with finances.
In its first Financial Wellness Census, the
company found that one-third of American don’t have an “accurate handle” on
their finances, believing they are better or worse off than they really are. According
to the survey, respondents said their most pressing financial worry was the
thought that they’ll never be able to retire.
Meanwhile, more than 50 percent of respondents
believe they are on track to meet their financial aims, though less than 50
percent actually are making plans to achieve those goals.
Many respondents indicated they are confused—and troubled—as they struggle with finances. The survey also found, for example, that:
- About 17 percent of Americans
thought they were in good financial shape even though they weren’t.
- Another 12 percent thought they
weren’t doing well, though they were.
- And women feel less on track than
men when it comes to meeting their financial goals. For example, 36 percent of
women believed they’d have enough savings to last through retirement compared
to 51 percent of men.
Understanding the basics of your financial
situation is a critical part of maintaining strong financial health. If you’re
not sure how much money is in the bank or how much you owe, how will you ever
be able to save for retirement or dig yourself out from debt?
If you’re already behind and not certain where
you stand financially, it can take some time and dedication to get things on
course. But, once you do, and if you continue to stay on top of it, watching
your finances is something you can easily integrate into your monthly household
Seven things you can do to stop struggling with finances
all the paperwork
Pay stubs, bills, credit card statements, bank
account statements, evidence of other sources of income. Pull all of it
together from the past year into one place. A simple binder or folder can help
with this process.
how much you really earn
Now, look at your pay stubs, along with any
other sources of income, such as child support, alimony or revenue from a side
business. Add it all up to determine how much you’re taking home, minus the
taxes that you might have to pay on any of your earnings.
out how much you spend, how much you owe
Now, look back at your spending from the last
year. How much are your monthly bills? How much money do you owe? Don’t forget
to comb through your credit card statements to determine where you’re spending
your money. You might be surprised to find more impulse buys than you expected.
Don’t forget to include any money you might be
saving for retirement or storing away in an emergency fund.
if you’re living within your means
Now that you have details about your earnings
and your spending, you can determine if you’re living within your means. How
will you know? You’re living within your means when your earnings are about
equal or more than your spending, which should include covering your daily
expenses, paying off debt and saving for retirement and emergencies.
Now that you have the lay of your financial
land, it’s time to set some goals. Would you like to be saving more? Do you
want to help your kids go to college? Do you hope to buy a home? Will you need
a new car soon? How much money will you need to retire? Once you set life goals
like these, you can begin to map out the plans necessary to achieve them.
With your information in hand, it’s time to make a budget that incorporates
your earnings and your spending and accounts for the savings you need to reach
your goals. Then, it’s up to you to stay on top of your spending to ensure you remain
It’s easy enough for us to list all the steps required to stop struggling with finances. The work, however, can be much more difficult. Pulling together hard-to-find documents can be a challenge and take time. Tough decisions are required as you look for ways to cut back. A financial advisor or credit counselor can provide the professional expertise to help get you back on track.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.