In a first-of-its-kind national survey, the CFPB’s Financial Well-Being in America report is the result of a National Financial Well-Being Survey conducted in 2016. The survey used a 10 question “scale” developed by the CFPB to measure the financial well-being of consumers. According to the CFPB, the consumer sample was designed to be representative of U.S. households. Additionally, respondents to the questions in the financial well-being scale, also answered questions about many other measures including individual, household, and family characteristics; income and employment; savings and safety nets; financial experiences; and money behaviors, skills, and attitudes. The key findings are the following:
- There is wide variation in how people in the U.S. feel about their financial well-being;
- Financial well-being scores reflect real differences in underlying financial circumstances;
- Financial well-being scores provide information beyond traditional financial measures;
- Savings and financial cushions provide the greatest differentiation between people with different levels of financial well-being;
- Certain experiences with debt and credit seem to be strongly—and negatively— associated with financial well-being;
- Higher levels of financial know-how, confidence, and certain day-to-day money management behaviors appear to have strong and positive relationships with financial well-being;
- Many financial and demographic characteristics are associated with financial well-being, but several are not;
- Multiple factors likely affect the exact level of financial well-being of any particular individual; and
- Characteristics that have relatively little within-subgroup variation in financial well-being and low overlap of scores between subgroups may be more closely tied to financial well-being.
The CFPB also released an interactive online tool that can be used by individuals to self-evaluate their own financial well-being and find ways to enhance control of their finances.