Tracking Consumers’ Financial Well-Being
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. 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.
The average financial well-being score held steady after July’s increase. The average score for U.S. adults is 50.28 this August. Men were slightly less well-off in August, with a score of 51.26, down about 1.4 points from July. However, they’re better off than women, who scored an average of 49.38 in August, nearly 1.9 points worse than men.
While most generations held steady from July to August, millennials aren’t faring as well. Millennials scored an average of 45.73 in August, down from 48.1 just a month prior. Only 26% of this generation said they feel like they can enjoy life because of how they are managing their money, down from 37% the previous month. While no single event led to this decline, it’s plausible young consumers are anticipating challenging times to come as they prepare to resume student loan debt payments and balance competing spending priorities.
Despite inflation rising in August, fewer adults are scraping by or worried about their money lasting. The share of U.S. adults who said they are “just getting by financially” was just over a third this August, falling from 41% from the same period a year earlier.Similarly, consumers’ concerns that the money they have won’t last have ticked down to 46% from 51% in August 2022. But if inflation continues to bite in September, this optimism is unlikely to hold.
Financial Well-Being Scale Buoyed by Boomers, High Earners
'My finances control my life'
‘Giving a gift for a wedding, birthday or other occasion would put a strain on my finances for the month’
‘Because of my money situation, I feel like I will never have the things I want in life’
‘I could handle a major unexpected expense’
‘I am securing my financial future’
Source of This Data
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.
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.
The authors would like to thank Charlotte Principato for her contributions to this research.
Caroline Smith is a manager of financial services intelligence at Morning Consult, where she analyzes high-frequency data to help the company deliver real-time insights to the financial services sector.
Jaime Toplin is senior financial services analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where she conducts research, authors analyst notes, and advises industry stakeholders on trends in the banking, payments, crypto and personal finance sectors. Previously, Jaime was a senior payments analyst at Insider Intelligence, where she contributed to the daily newsletter, wrote reports offering actionable insights to payments leaders, spoke at conferences including Money 20/20 and engaged with national media. She holds a bachelor of science degree in journalism and legal studies from Northwestern University. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].