WHEN IT COMES to personal finances, today’s consumers have varying methods of managing monthly expenses, credit and future financial planning.
As the world continues to grapple with impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Equifax’s 2021 Financial Inclusion Survey, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers earlier this year, provides key insights into consumers’ top financial concerns, as well as how they are managing their finances through these uncertain times.
“Our survey findings show consumers are still concerned about how the pandemic will continue to impact them financially,” said Beverly Anderson, president of Global Consumer Solutions at Equifax. “Our goal is to help people live their financial best, so it’s clear financial services organizations must continue developing innovative solutions to meet consumers’ changing needs, and to help them progress on their financial journey.”
The Financial Inclusion Survey, conducted for the fifth year, is part of Equifax’s efforts to support businesses with useful information that promotes access to credit and financial inclusion.
Key takeaways from the survey include:
Personal finance knowledge: Overall, many consumers give themselves good grades regarding their basic level of financial knowledge, with 15% giving themselves an “A” and 40% giving themselves a “B” letter grade.
While a large number of consumers give themselves high marks regarding financial knowledge, they also note the need for further measures to be taken. Eighty-five percent of consumers said a personal finance class should be a requirement for all high school graduates, however only two-thirds (62%) recall ever taking one in school. Of those that had previously taken a personal finance class, 81% say they regularly create a budget to help manage their monthly finances.
The survey also found that more than half of consumers (58%) admit to running out of money at the end of each month leading them to cut back on expenses (47%), pull money from their checking or savings account (44%), or use credit (27%) in between paychecks.
Use and attitudes toward credit: Overall, the survey findings showed a somewhat positive trend in terms of respondents’ use and attitudes toward improving their credit with 65% of respondents paying their bills on time every time, and 55% paying off debt to help improve their credit scores.
More than half of respondents (56%) report they have checked their credit reports within the last week or month, with a majority of people (60%) saying they checked their credit reports to make sure the information is correct.
“People want to feel secure in their finances and are taking their credit profile seriously now more than ever,” said Anderson. “Our findings also reinforce the need for more financial education, resources and relief to create safety nets. There’s ample opportunity for all players in the financial ecosystem to help individuals reach and maintain financial security.”
Equifax is providing consumers free, weekly online access to their credit reports until April 2022 at www.annualcreditreport.com. To read the full survey results, click here.