Americans Feeling Grim About Their Financial Future

Worried about saving for retirement, health care and other basic needs

Nearly a quarter of mortgage holders worry they will fall behind on payments and lose their homes. Nearly a quarter of mortgage holders worry they will fall behind on payments and lose their homes.

Don’t tell Americans they’re in the midst of an economic recovery. They’re afraid of more than not being able to retire comfortably. They’re also afraid they won’t be able to afford necessary health care or even making ends meet. And as if that’s not enough, they’re also worried that the kids will be moving back home. 

So says a gloomy new Harris poll, which indicates that 68% of Americans who are working or who have a spouse working are afraid there won’t be enough money for retirement.

Harris surveyed 2,306 adults online between July 16 and 21, 2014.

Among all Americans, working or not, 55% figure they’ll have to work longer than they want to because they won’t be able to afford retirement. Sixty-four percent of millennials and 74% of Gen Xers had this worry. 

Then there’s health care. Among the employed, 63% fear they’ll run into medical bills that they won’t be able to pay. And 40% of the employed worry that either they or their spouse will have to tack on a second job just to meet everyday expenses. 

Those with kids under 18 aren’t optimistic about their children’s college costs, either, with 63% feeling that they won’t be able to pay the tuition bills for one or more of their offspring. No matter the age of the child, parents are thinking ahead — and the picture isn’t pretty: 36% figure that the kids will end up back home, with Mom and Dad, because they won’t be able to make the rent on places of their own. 

Speaking of housing, that’s another stay-up-at-night-and-worry topic. Nearly a quarter of those with mortgages (23%) are afraid they won’t be able to afford those mortgages and will lose their homes.

Millennials who own a home and pay a mortgage are even more worried, at 32%. The numbers nearly double when the respondents don’t yet have a home of their own; 61% feel they’ll never be able to afford to buy a home, while millennials (62%) and GenXers (68%) are pretty well convinced that they’re doomed to rent forever. 

But the real nitty-gritty is this: a little more than half of Americans (51%) worry that they won’t be able to afford anything other than the bare necessities, and 41% are afraid they won’t even be able to handle such basics as food, housing, clothing and transportation.

Not surprisingly, only three in 10 Americans gave President Barack Obama positive ratings for his handling of the economy in the poll. This was down from the previous month, when almost one-third (32%) gave the president positive marks on the economy.

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