A new study has found that, when it comes to money, modern Americans are leading double lives.
The 100-page study, entitled “The Secret Financial Lives of Americans and the Future of Financial Services,” is based on four years of research and candid responses from thousands of participants.
It includes private interviews with consumers, shopping addicts, bank executives, Wall Street analysts, and even convicted bank robbers.
While on social media Americans are publicly enjoying barbecues, shopping, travel, and glasses of rosé, their private financial secrets tell a more checkered story: 52% of Americans have broken down into tears over money, 37% of Americans have gone to sleep hungry because of money, 12% have stolen something they could not afford, and 5% admit to having taken half-eaten food out of a garbage can.
Struggling to cope with the pressures of status anxiety, Americans are financing the visible parts of their financial lives (where they live, what they buy, what they drive, where they vacation) by depleting parts no one else can see (savings accounts, retirement savings, and credit card debt).
“Many Americans have become like superheroes in reverse: invincible in public, but with a secret life of daily stress about money.” – Gunny Scarfo, Co-Author Of “The Secret Financial Lives of Americans and the Future of Financial Services”
The study also reveals a crucial gap between the financial help Americans want and the services offered by the financial industry.
The study highlights eight key personal finance needs that are not being met by banks, accountants, financial planners, or other industry professionals.
These include helping Americans know whether they’re paid fairly, maximizing their salary at their current job, planning career moves to grow household income, budgeting month to month, right-sizing their debt, planning affordable vacations, dealing with the spending pressures of status anxiety, and finding a holistic advisor to talk to about their financial life as a whole.
“Most financial industry professionals would look at that list and laugh. They’d say, ‘that’s not my job.’ But when you ask everyday people about their relationship with money, those are the eight things that matter to them,” added Ben Zeidler, the study’s co-author. “Right now, financial companies are focused on new technologies when they should be looking at what services people want – even crave – but aren’t able to get. Large numbers of Americans are willing to pay for these services but no one in the financial industry is selling it to them. Now the question is clear: who’s going to sell these services first?”
“The Secret Financial Lives of Americans and the Future of Financial Service,” is available for free at ThisisNonfiction.com.