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Middle-Income Households, Baby Boomers Saw Largest Drops in Financial Well-Being in July
Updated: August 16, 2022 | By Charlotte Principato

Each month Morning Consult polls at least 2,200 U.S. adults about how they view their personal financial situations and how this perception impacts their ability to feel secure and enjoy freedom of choice. This data is incorporated into Morning Consult’s Financial Well-Being Scale, modeled after a scale by the same name from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). You can learn more about Morning Consult’s scale in our methodology below.

How to read this data: The Financial Well-Being scores reflect the extent to which a person’s financial situation provides them with security and freedom of choice. Consumers’ Financial Well-Being scores can change over time, and while some score shifts may appear small, even the slightest change can be meaningful. For example, according to the CFPB, an individual’s 1-point month-over-month increase is associated with a $15,000 increase in household income, a five-year age increase or a 20-point credit score hike.

Key takeaways

Inflation continues to wear on consumers’ financial well-being. Compared with this time last year, the financial well-being of the average U.S. adult is 0.95 points lower, declining from 50.74 in July 2021 to 49.79 in July 2022, commensurate with a decrease in income of $14,250, per the CFPB. 

Baby boomers are feeling the pressure of inflation on their finances. Although they still enjoy the highest financial well-being of any generation, baby boomers are not immune to broader macroeconomic conditions and are having to pay close attention to their finances in light of high inflation. The share of boomers who said they are securing their financial future dropped from 30% in June to 26% in July.

Middle-income households are struggling to cope with inflation. Households making between $50,000 and $99,999 a year experienced a statistically significant drop of 1.69 points in their financial well-being score from June to July. A third of U.S. adults in this income bracket said their finances control their lives in July, up from 29% in June.

Key Demographics

Financial Well-Being Scale Buoyed by Boomers, High Earners

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Control Over Finances

‘My finances control my life’

Shares who say the above phrase describes them “always” or “often”

‘Giving a gift for a wedding, birthday or other occasion would put a strain on my finances for the month’

Shares who say the above phrase describes them “always” or “often”

Financial Freedom

‘Because of my money situation, I feel like I will never have the things I want in life’

Shares who say the above phrase describes them “completely” or “very well”

Capacity to Absorb a Financial Shock

‘I could handle a major or unexpected expense’

Shares who say the above phrase describes them “completely” or “very well”

On Track to Meet Goals

‘I am securing my financial future’

Shares who say the above phrase describes them “completely” or “very well”

The above charts represent 5 of the 10 prompts used to calculate financial well-being. For information on the five additional prompts, contact cprincipato@morningconsult.com.

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Methodology

Morning Consult surveys at least 2,200 U.S. adults every month on their financial health, well-being, habits and attitudes. To determine overall financial well-being, Morning Consult replicated the CFPB’s Financial Well-Being Scale and scoring methodology.

The CFPB created its Financial Well-Being Scale in 2015 for the purpose of allowing “practitioners and researchers to accurately and consistently quantify, and therefore observe, something that the respondent already has a sense of — the extent to which their financial situation and the financial capability that they have developed provide them with security and freedom of choice.” The scale includes 10 questions for gauging present and future security and freedom of choice, touching on consumers’ control over their finances, their capacity to absorb financial shocks and their trajectory to meet their financial goals.

The 10 questions were selected by the CFPB through cognitive testing, factor analysis and psychometric testing of large populations. The score used for the Financial Well-Being Scale is based on Item Response Theory (IRT) analysis, a statistical method that provides a more precise measure than a summary score.

The IRT-based scoring method allows researchers to give precise and consistent estimates for the aspects of financial well-being that have traditionally been hard to quantify, including feelings of empowerment, confidence and satisfaction. Scores can be calculated via a two-step process. First, the respondent’s self-assessment is converted to a zero-to-four scale; second, a lookup table is used to convert each total response value to the Financial Well-Being Scale based on the respondent’s age group.

On April 1, 2022, Morning Consult updated its general population weighting targets for the United States to be more representative of the most recent population data. This change has slightly and not meaningfully altered some historical data in this tracker.

About Morning Consult

Morning Consult is a global decision intelligence company changing how modern leaders make smarter, faster, better decisions. The company pairs its proprietary high-frequency data with applied artificial intelligence to better inform decisions on what people think and how they will act. Learn more at morningconsult.com

About the author

Charlotte Principato is a financial services analyst at Morning Consult, where she leads the company’s analysis to deliver real-time insights to the financial services sector.

Special thanks to Sam Hughes; Laura Maxwell, Ph.D.; Rachel Venaglia, Ph.D.; Samantha Elbouez and Sara Wickersham for their assistance with this project.

About Morning Consult trackers

Morning Consult trackers monitor everything from political sentiment to economic conditions to consumer behavior. They are updated on either a weekly or monthly basis using data from a representative sample, displayed in an easy-to-parse format and accompanied by exclusive insights from leading industry analysts and subject matter experts.

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