Three-quarters of individuals earning less than $100,000 per year say their earnings are falling behind their cost of living, compared with 50% who said so 22 months ago, according to the results of a survey released by Primerica.
As well, the number of individuals who have an emergency savings fund that could cover an expense of $1,000 is decreasing back to levels at the start of the pandemic, and 72% say they are likely not going to be able to save for the future, up from 54% 22 months ago.
“There’s a higher level of concern financially among middle-income families than there was even at [the height] of the pandemic,” said Glenn Williams, CEO of Primerica, in a published report. “When you see rising prices in staples like gas, rent, things you can’t avoid … it comes down to tougher decisions around priorities.”
The data in the survey paints a picture of a consumer who is in growing financial trouble and knows it. Nearly 30% of consumers reported that their credit card debt had increased in the past three months, compared with 21% who said so in September 2020. Seventy-one percent of respondents are cutting back on restaurant/takeout meals, compared with 57% who said they were doing so in March.
Making matters worse for consumers is the feeling that they lack the education and information needed to make smart financial decisions. Only 26% of respondents said they are very confident they could make a sound financial decision without outside professional help and 31% said they don’t contribute to a savings account, follow a budget, contribute to an investment account, or even set a budget every month.