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Areas of Most Urgent Financial Concern as COVID-19 Hit the United States

Since 2007, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has conducted an annual financial literacy survey. Each year it reveals how Americans feel about their finances and what they know as it relates to financial literacy, as well as how they put that knowledge into practice when it comes to retirement, savings, credit card debt, student loan debt and more. The 2020 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey sponsored by Discover Financial Services was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Discover Financial Services between March 9th and March 13th, 2020 among 2,004 U.S. adults ages 18+. The NFCC’s Financial Literacy Survey provides an overview of financial literacy statistics in the U.S. You can download the press release, key findings, data sheet and infographic near the bottom of the page. Sponsored by

Headlines and Key Findings

Click here to download the survey data

This year’s report focuses on how prepared American households are to deal with the financial uncertainties from COVID-19 pandemic.

Americans are facing debt repayment challenges.

1

62% of U.S. adults have carried credit card debt in last 12 months.

2

More than 1 in 4 (27%) admit they do not pay all of their bills on time.

3

Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) find it difficult to minimize their debt primarily due to unexpected financial emergencies (19%) or reduction of income (19%).

4

16% more U.S adults say their household carries credit card debt from month-to-month than last year (43% vs. 37% in 2019).

Barriers to Home Ownership

Barriers to homeownership continue to affect more than half of U.S. adults (56%) who have tried to purches their own home.

The top barriers to homeownership among those who have tried to purchase a home were:

1

Rising house prices (19%).

2

Existing debt (13%) .

3

Lack of funding for the down payment and/or closing costs (13%).

Many expressed financial concerns around savings and retirement.

The majority of adults have non-retirement savings (70%) and the same proportion save a percentage of their household’s income each year for retirement (70%). But, the top areas of personal finance worry among U.S. adults continue to be retiring without having enough money set aside (13%)and having insufficient “rainy day” savings for an emergency (12%).

Many agree they could benefit from seeking financial advice.

78% of U.S. adults agree that considering what they already know about personal finance, they could still benefit from financial advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional.

1 in 4 U.S. adults (25%), or over 62 million Americans,[i] indicate they would reach out to a professional non-profit credit counseling agency for assistance if they were having financial problems related to debt.

About the Survey
The 2020 Financial Literacy Survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Discover Financial Services between March 9th and March 13th, 2020 among 2,004 U.S. adults ages 18+. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Bruce McClary at bmcclary@nfcc.org.

[i] Calculation based on U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Current Population Survey (CPS), which estimates there are 249.19 million adults ages
18+ residing in the United States: 249.19M x 0.25 = 62.3M.