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Survey: Financial Anxiety Soars as Americans Doubt Ability to Reach Goals

April 2, 2024

Washington, DC – National Foundation for Credit Counseling Releases 2024 Financial Capability Survey Results

As National Financial Capability Month begins, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC) today released the results of their latest Harris Poll survey, conducted among 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and over. In its 17th year, the survey provides a snapshot of the American consumer’s level of knowledge as it relates to financial capability, as well as behavioral and attitudinal trends associated with personal finance. The 2024 survey was sponsored by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

“This year’s survey once again confirms what we already know: there is a significant need for financial education and counseling. Many Americans are struggling financially and lack the confidence to plan for the future,” said Mike Croxson, CEO of the NFCC. “Financial education empowers people to make informed financial decisions and overcome challenges standing in the way of their long-term goals.”

Key Findings:

Nearly one-third of Americans (32%) are just getting by financially, and a staggering six in ten (62%) fear government instability will harm their finances in the next 12 months. This pervasive anxiety is hindering long-term financial planning, with around half feeling uncertainty makes achieving their goals impossible.

While debt remains prevalent, concerning themes emerge:

  • Personal Finance Worries:
    • Roughly 6 in 10 (61%) feel most improvements in the U.S. economy don’t benefit people like them.
    • More than half (55%) agree that uncertainty in the U.S. economy makes it impossible to achieve their long-term financial goals.
    • At least one-quarter of Americans are concerned their money won’t last (39%), or feel they will never have the things they want in life because of their financial situation (24%).
  • Challenges:
    • 1 in 3 (31%) don’t pay all their bills on time – up from 27% last year.
    • Only approximately 2 in 5 Americans (42%) have a budget & keep track of spending.
    • Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) are concerned the money they have or will save won’t last, and top financial concerns remain concentrated on the lack of savings (27%).
  • Knowledge of Personal Finance:
    • Fewer Americans give themselves an A or B when considering their own knowledge of personal finance (53% vs 57% in 2023).
    • An increasing number feel that considering what they already know about personal finance, they could still benefit from some advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional (80% vs 77% in 2023).
  • Attitudes Toward Credit
    • More than half of Americans (55%) feel uncertainty in the U.S. economy makes it difficult to pay off debt.
    • One in three (34%) are comfortable maxing out credit despite potential economic downturn in the next 12 months.
    • One in five (21%) believes if they are going to have debt, the amount they owe is irrelevant.

“These survey results serve as a good reminder to prioritize financial education. At Wells Fargo, we’re committed to investing in solutions that can help people develop healthy financial habits and build a strong financial safety net over time,” said Bonnie Wallace, head of Financial Health Philanthropy at Wells Fargo.

For those who struggle to make ends meet and regain control of their debt, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling offers access to a nationwide network of nonprofit financial counseling providers and tools to help people take charge of their finances. This includes fast connections to personalized counseling, budgeting tips and strategies for managing debt. Help is available at

Additional survey details, including an at-a-glance snapshot of key survey data in the form of an infographic, will be available following the Tuesday, April 2nd release in the Newsroom on the NFCC website,

About the NFCC

Founded in 1951, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is the oldest nonprofit dedicated to improving people’s financial well-being. With 1,215 NFCC Certified Credit Counselors serving 50 states and all U.S. territories, NFCC nonprofit counselors are financial advocates, empowering millions of consumers to take charge of their finances through one-on-one financial reviews that address credit card debt, student loans, housing decisions, and overall money management. For expert guidance and advice, call (800) 388-2227 or visit

Survey Methodology: 

The research was conducted online in the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of NFCC among 2,020 U.S. adults aged 18 and over. The survey was conducted from 8th January – 23rd January.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys.   The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval.  For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.  This credible interval will be wider among subsets of the surveyed population of interest.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to other multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including, but not limited to coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.