Even during a global pandemic, financial concerns dominate over physical, mental, and emotional health worries. This results in massive losses for employers.
For each financially-stressed employee
Estimated workdays per year in lost productivity
Times as likely to experience anxiety or depression
As likely to be looking for a new job
69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account.
Most Americans’ financial worlds are balanced on the edge of a knife. Accidents, injuries, illnesses, maintenance needs, death, disability, divorce, layoffs, legal liabilities, identity theft, arrests, substance addiction, scams, and even a new or bad boss are all everyday events that can trigger financial collapse.
Most Americans are one life event away from requiring assistance for basic needs.
We all know people who have been through these events—a surprise diagnosis, a car accident, a mental health issue, or even an affair that leads to separation—and suddenly the family cannot make ends meet.
What are the causes of financial exclusion?
One explanation is that personal responsibility has eroded over time. And while there may be some truth to that, the reality is that today’s financial environment makes it more difficult than ever to make economic progress.
50 years ago, a home in the Denver area cost about twice a household’s annual income. Today the average home price is over 5.2 times median household income and rising. Nationwide, housing costs have grown over four times faster than wages since 1970. Education costs are exploding, growing nearly eight times faster than wages. Health care costs are increasing at more than double wage growth. While inflation models report only modest increases, the biggest costs for most families are rising far faster that typical consumer goods.
Debt is more available than ever before. Credit card limits (and debt) hit all-time highs in 2020. The average credit card interest rate is over 20% at a time when savings accounts are yielding practically nothing. And those with access to credit are fortunate—the average payday loan charges a staggering 391% per year.
Financial illiteracy and misinformation are also huge problems. Just 15% of workers are confident in their ability to manage their own money. Only 16% of millennials qualify as financially literate, and no age group gets to 50%. On top of those challenges, social marketing has increased over 110% in the past two years—we are advertised to exponentially more than any previous generation.
The financial advice industry is built for the wealthy and fortunate. It is a high-commission, high-conflict, and discriminatory business that does not even have solutions for people struggling to make ends meet. Financial progress is tougher than ever.