Report Reveals More than Half of Americans Are Not Financially Healthy

New CFSI Study Evaluates the Current State of Financial Health, Identifying Opportunities to Improve Consumer Outcomes

CHICAGO--()--According to a new study by the Center for Financial Services Innovation, 57% of American adults are struggling financially, and 43% of U.S. households struggle to keep up with their bills and credit payments. The report, Understanding and Improving Consumer Financial Health in America, sheds light on the financial challenges facing millions of Americans.

The report, which benefited from generous financial support from American Express, the Ford Foundation and MetLife Foundation, presents learnings from a nationally representative survey with a sample size greater than 7,000. It was released at CBA Live, the premier annual conference for retail banking industry leaders, and was featured during a main stage session with Jennifer Tescher, President & CEO, CFSI at 8:30am EDT.

“If we are going to meaningfully and measurably address financial health in this country, we have to start with a deep understanding of consumer preferences, behaviors, and pain points,” said Tescher. “This study reveals significant opportunities for policymakers, nonprofit organizations, and financial service providers to create real solutions and empower millions of Americans to live healthy financial lives.”

"This study provides useful new insights about how consumers manage their financial lives. One of the most interesting findings is that people can improve their financial health even if their income doesn't change," said Courtney Kelso, VP, Product Strategy, Management, and Delivery, Enterprise Growth for American Express. "We're focused on leveraging research like this study, and developing new tools and capabilities to help customers understand how they're spending and saving their money. In the last year, we've added a suite of features to American Express Serve and launched an innovation lab focused on helping people set goals and track and manage their money."

Financial health is achieved when an individual’s daily financial system functions well and increases the likelihood of financial resilience and opportunity. Key findings of the survey provide insights on consumers’ behaviors, attitudes, and product usage. These include:

Behavioral Insights

  • People who plan ahead for large, irregular expenses are 10 times more likely to be in a healthy segment than those who do not plan ahead.
  • People who have a planned savings habit are 4 times more likely to be in a healthy segment than those who do not.

Attitudinal Indicators

  • Less than half of consumers agree or strongly agree with the statement: I am confident that I can meet my long-term goals for becoming financially secure.
  • People in the healthy segments are more satisfied with their present financial condition and are less likely to say their finances cause them significant stress.

Product Usage

  • While 74% of consumers say they have a savings account, more than half do not have a planned savings habit.
  • While 43% of the total population does not budget, over half of people who own prepaid cards say they use them to help with budgeting, and 77% say they use prepaid cards because they can only spend what they have.

“Kudos to CFSI for pioneering both the compelling ‘financial health’ framework and their insightful survey of the financial health of Americans. The study has found that, with nearly 6 in 10 Americans struggling financially, the challenges are immense—but the opportunities to improve financial health are equally, if not more, immense. By revealing how consumer behaviors, attitudes and outcomes interact, CFSI has broadened our vision, as well as our pathways, for achieving consumer financial success,” said Ray Boshara, Director, Center for Household Financial Stability, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The report defines seven consumer financial health segments based on a combination of behaviors and attitudes, offering an analysis that goes beyond income, age, education, or credit score. Together, the report findings demonstrate the need for a supportive economic environment, individual persistence, and access to high-quality financial products and services designed to improve financial well-being.

Download and read Understanding and Improving Consumer Financial Health in America.

CFSI will host a webinar on this report on March 26, 2015 at 12:00pm CDT. Further analysis of the data is ongoing and additional findings and recommendations are forthcoming. CFSI will build upon this foundational body of knowledge in the coming years by developing financial health metrics, exploring additional topics like credit scoring and examining the connection between improved financial health and business model drivers.

About CFSI:

The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) is the nation’s authority on consumer financial health. CFSI leads a network of financial services innovators committed to building a more robust financial services marketplace with higher quality products and services, specifically for those who are struggling. Through its Compass Principles and a lineup of proprietary research, insights and events, CFSI informs, advises, and connects members of its network to seed the innovation that will transform the financial services landscape. For more on CFSI, go to and follow on Twitter at @CFSInnovation.


Kathleen Smith Shelton
Sr. Associate, Marketing and Communications

Release Summary

CFSI's nationally representative consumer survey sheds light on the financial challenges facing millions of Americans.


Kathleen Smith Shelton
Sr. Associate, Marketing and Communications