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Americans Share Their Biggest Financial Fears

Saving for retirement, paying for healthcare and keeping their financial information safe online has Americans worried

October 20, 2014

Bloomington - Americans are finding cause for concern with their finances, and uncertainty over their spending habits and overall financial confidence might be behind it. According to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey nearly half of individuals (47 percent) do not keep track of their monthly discretionary spending whatsoever. Also, a majority (51 percent) rate their financial security as just fair or poor.

When asked about their biggest financial fear, being able to retire comfortably was the most common worry cited by 28 percent of Americans.

  • The more money households make, the more they’re worried about being able to support their lifestyles through retirement.
  • Households earning $100,000 to $175,000 and more than $175,000 were more likely to say retiring comfortably is their biggest financial fear, 43 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

Healthcare expenses (18 percent) and being able to afford rent or mortgage payments (11 percent) are also weighing on a number of Americans nationwide.

  • Healthcare expenses are especially concerning for Americans ages 50-64 (24 percent) and over 65 (42 percent).
  • Americans under the age 29 are primarily worried about affording their rent or mortgage, with 18 percent citing it as a top concern.

These aren’t the only financial fears that are top of mind. The rapid growth of online banking is creating a new concern for many Americans. Nearly seven in ten (67 percent) are worried about their financial information ending up in the wrong hands as banking and payments become increasingly digital.

“Our biggest fears usually come from simply not knowing,” says Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security support at COUNTRY Financial. “The better you understand your level of financial security, and your goals and the steps to achieve them, the less worried you’ll likely be about your finances. The key is minimizing your blind spots.”

Buhrmann is making a guest appearance on Wise Bread’s weekly TweetChat on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. CST to discuss the October COUNTRY Financial Security Index findings. Join the conversation using the hashtag #WBChat.

Pressure From Family and Friends

For many, their cause for financial anxiety might have something to do with "keeping up with the Joneses."

  • About a third of Americans (32 percent) feel the financial success of their family and friends creates pressure for them to be equally financially successful.
  • Those with children and individuals who are single or not married are more likely to feel pressure, 43 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

This extra pressure from family and friends might be causing Americans to stay tight-lipped about their finances. If asked to choose between revealing their credit score or who they voted for in an election, only 15 percent of Americans are comfortable divulging their credit score. Over half (56 percent) would rather share who they voted for.

Americans with a financial planner, however, are feeling more confident about their finances and less stress from family and friends.•

  • Seventy percent of those with a financial planner rate their financial security as excellent or good.
  • Less than a quarter (23 percent) feel pressure to be as financially successful as their friends and family.

“A budget is the foundation of any financial plan,” says Buhrmann. “If establishing a short- and a long-term financial plan feels intimidating, consider working with a financial planner. They can help take off the pressure, especially when it comes to creating a plan to reach long-term goals like retirement.”

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®
Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans’ sentiments of their personal financial security. The COUNTRY Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at and on Twitter at @FinanceSecure.

The COUNTRY Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by GfK, an independent research firm. Surveys were conducted using GfK’s KnowledgePanel TM, a national, probability-based panel designed to be representative of the general population and includes responses from approximately 1,000 U.S. adults for national surveys. The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

The COUNTRY Financial group ( serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home, business and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.