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8 in 10 Americans Feel in Control of Their Finances: Survey

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Although the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges prompted many to revamp their financial strategies in 2020, 46% of people surveyed said they were confident in their ability to withstand a difficult financial situation, and 7 in 10 people with a strategy said they felt financially stable and resilient, according to research from the financial services firm Edward Jones.

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The COVID-19 pandemic hit many Americans hard, yet 81% feel in control of their financial situation, according to a recent survey from the financial services firm Edward Jones.

Forty-six percent of study participants say they were confident in their ability to withstand or quickly recover from difficult financial situations — what Edward Jones refers to as their financial resilience. 

“It’s encouraging to see that Americans feel confident in their financial standing given the tumultuous year 2020 presented,” Edward Jones principal Vanessa Okwuraiwe said in a statement. “Even so, financial stability requires careful planning, goal-setting and the flexibility to revise that strategy if and when situations arise.”

Morning Consult, a global data intelligence firm, conducted the survey in early December among a national sample of 2,220 adults. 

Seven in 10 survey participants with a strategy said they felt financially stable and resilient. 

The pandemic and other challenges last year prompted many individual investors to rework their financial strategies. Survey respondents said they were prioritizing and saving more for personal education opportunities, marriage and the birth of a child. 

At the same time, 12% reported that they had postponed buying a house, 10% changing careers and 6% retirement. Although they are still saving for those future moments, many are repurposing funds to cover current unexpected expenses as a result of the pandemic. 

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they are actively contributing to their emergency funds, with 23% noting that this is the first access point for immediate cash in the event of financial hardship. 

To meet immediate financial needs, 20% said they would depend on cash and loans from family, and 12% would look to friends. That number increases to 31% for Generation Z respondents who said they would access funds through a loan from family or friends.

Financial Learning and Guidance

The survey found that as the pandemic took hold, 11% of participants had increased their investments in stocks and bonds, and 7% had started investing for the first time.

Edward Jones noted that though it is often overlooked, financial education can drive financial resilience and stability, which some generations are prioritizing more than others. 

Thirty-one percent of millennials in the survey said increasing their financial knowledge was a priority, compared with 22% of both Gen Z and Gen X and 14% of baby boomers.

As a result, Edward Jones said it had launched a free online financial fitness program to offer its clients and investors personal finance resources to facilitate saving, buying a home or financial caregiving.

The market volatility of 2020 pushed many Americans to look for a guide who can understand them and help them achieve their financial goals. 

Twenty-six percent of survey respondents said they began working with a financial advisor last year. But only 16% of Americans consult a financial advisor, while 26% rely on family and 21% on friends for help when making financial decisions, Edward Jones said. 

“Given the number of financial worries brought about by the pandemic, whether it be job loss, retirement considerations, caregiving or providing financial support to adult children, it is important to seek advice,” Okwuraiwe said. 

“These dynamics can be difficult to navigate. Investing in your financial education, consulting with a financial advisor, developing a financial strategy and adjusting that strategy as situations arise are helpful strategies to increase financial resilience and stability.”