Nearly 40% of Americans say they are behind on monthly bills: survey

Nearly 40% of Americans say that it’s the worst of times for their personal finances rather than the best, according to a new survey.

LendingTree surveyed more than 2,000 people in the U.S. earlier this year to better understand their current financial situation.

According to the findings, 38% of Americans said their financial situation was closer to the worst than the best, while half of consumers said they felt financially unstable.

More women than men said it was the worst of times for their finances — 42% versus 33%.

In addition, 38% of respondents said they were pessimistic about the economy versus 34% who said they were optimistic.

"Maybe you’ve paid down your debts and raised your net worth a bit, but you feel like you’re still struggling to make ends meet and get ahead," Matt Schulz, a LendingTree analyst said in a statement. "Maybe you’re nervous about your job security as you’re about to send a kid to college. Maybe your health has taken a major turn, and you’re scared of what’s ahead, physically and financially. Or, on the flip side, maybe you’re still in a difficult place but know you’ve turned the corner for the first time in years. All these things can affect your perspective on your financial situation."

Impacts following inflation

While inflation has started to cool down, the survey suggests that many consumers are still reeling from years of economic turbulence. 

The survey also found that 37% of Americans are behind on monthly bills, which jumps to 53% among parents with young children. 


(Image: Kiwis / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Additionally, 61% reported that inflation has impacted their ability to afford their lifestyle.

"Yes, inflation seems to have peaked, but it hasn’t gone away," Schulz continued. "Your best move is to adjust your budget accordingly, assuming your expenses over the next six to 12 months will be a bit higher than today. Far better to prepare for the worst in your budget and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around."

Inflation increased again in January, driven by a continued uptick in prices for food, housing and other services, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

On an annual basis, prices rose 3.1% in January, less than the 3.4% growth last month but above the sub-3% growth economists had expected.

Brighter days ahead

While many Americans think their finances are at a personal low, 45% of survey respondents said they’re optimistic about their finances in the next year, and 43% expect their income to increase in that period. 

However, 56% of Americans are still worried about a recession in the next year.

Democrats were significantly more optimistic than Republicans about the economy (51% versus 28%), and Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say their finances are closer to the worst they’ve been (42% versus 31%).

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"It’s never been easier to start a side hustle or a small business," Schulz says. "Unemployment is still relatively low, so it might be possible to move to a higher-paying job. You can also try to pursue a raise in your current job. What people need to understand is that these options aren’t going to be thrown at their feet. You have to go after them."

People can also consider the other side of the financial equation and lower their expenses. Depending on the gravity of your situation, it may just require canceling some streaming services and dining out less, or you may have to do something more serious, but it’s worth considering.