Inflation fears mount as Covid-19 concerns fall to the wayside
The number of Americans who expect inflation to be the biggest risk to their personal finances over the next 12 months has doubled from last year, from 20% in August 2021 to 40% in our latest CNBC/Momentive poll. Inflation concerns run high among all Americans regardless of age, race, or income status.
In that same time period, COVID-19 concerns have dropped to just 5% from 23%, and now narly all other potential risks – with the exception of “climate change” – take precedence over COVID-19. Americans are more likely to rank a “loss/decrease in income” (13%), “government spending” (10%), “higher taxes” (7%), “slower economic growth” (7%), and “higher interest rates” (7%) as bigger risks to their personal finances, all of which have barely budged from last year.
Pay raises fail to stifle inflation concerns: among the 55% of Americans who say they’ve received a pay raise in the last year, 43% said inflation was the biggest risk to their personal finances, compared with those who haven’t received pay raises (39%).
Amid ongoing inflation concerns, about half of adults (51%) say they’ve cut household expenses. Far fewer (19%) say they’ve dipped into short-term savings, yet about as many (17%) say they haven’t done anything to combat inflation. Some have increased their income by switching jobs for a higher salary (11%) or asking for a raise (11%). Others have relied on retirement nest eggs: 10% have dipped into retirement savings while 5% have taken a loan from a retirement account. Just 9% say they’ve moved to cut costs.
- Younger adults are the most likely to seek higher pay: among those that are employed, 26% of 18-34 year-olds say they’ve switched jobs for a higher salary compared with just 12% of those 35-64 and 3% of those 65+
Americans don’t need millions to feel financially secure
What does it take to feel rich? The overwhelming majority of Americans (80%) say they need to earn at least $100K a year to feel rich – including 22% who say they’d need to earn at least $1 million. Just 11% say they’d feel rich earning upwards of $50K, but less than $100K a year while about half as many (6%) would feel rich earning less than $50K.
But, for the vast majority of adults, it doesn’t take millions to feel financially comfortable: just 3% say they’d need to earn an annual income of $1 million to feel financially comfortable. More than half (54%) say they’d be comfortable earning less than $100K annually including nearly 1 in 5 (18%) who say they’d be financially comfortable earning less than $50K a year.
Current income plays a large role in determining financial comfort: 37% of those in households earning less than $50K say they’d feel financially comfortable earning $50K or less – far greater than those earning between $50-$100K (6%) or $100K or more (2%). But, higher income households have a higher threshold for being “rich”: 30% of those in households earning $100K or more say they’d need to earn $1 million a year to feel rich while just 19% of those in households earning between $50K-$100K and 18% of those earning less than $50K say the same.
Overall, many Americans are still living on less than they're comfortable with: 42% are in households earning less than $50K a year – more than double the number who say they’d feel financially comfortable earning the same (18%). Just 28% are earning between $50K and $100K while 26% are in households earning $100K or more.
Americans are scarce on retirement savings; some say they may never retire
Among those who haven’t retired, almost no one (7%) says they have enough savings to retire right now. Americans are six times as likely to say they are far behind on saving for retirement and don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire (42%) – a signal that many Americans have yet to start planning for retirement. Half as many (21%) say they’re on track to have enough saved to retire when they’re ready yet slightly more (28%) say they are a little behind on their retirement savings.
A quarter (26%) of Americans say they don’t have any money saved for retirement – including 16% of adults who are already retired. One in 10 (12%) don’t know how much they have saved for retirement. Among those with retirement savings, just (33%) have more than $0 but less than $100,000 while slightly fewer (29%) have more than $100,000 but less than $1 million. Hardly any Americans (7%) have $1 million or more saved.
- 68% of those who have less than $10,000 saved say they are far behind on their retirement savings and don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire
- Young adults are least likely to have anything saved: 35% of those 18-34 don’t have anything saved for retirement compared with 23% of those 35-64 and 10% of those 65+
Most Americans think they’ll need much more than they have saved to retire comfortably: among those who aren’t retired, 42% think they’ll need upwards of $100K, but less than $1 million to retire comfortably – a full 30% think they’ll need at least $1 million or more to retire comfortably. Just 11% say they could retire comfortably on less than $100K. Some (15%) don’t know how much they’d need to retire comfortably.
As most Americans are lagging on retirement savings, many may continue to work well into their golden years: among those who haven’t retired, 19% say they think they’ll be able to retire by age 71 or older while a near equal number (20%) don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire – both more than double the number of those who want to retire at age 71 or older (9%) or don’t want to retire at all (8%). Overall, among those who haven’t retired:
- 37% think they’ll retire between 61-70, slightly below the 41% who want to retire at that age
- Just 16% think they’ll retire between 51-60, but nearly twice as many want to retire between 51-60 (28%)
- 13% want to retire before age 50, but roughly half as many (7%) think they’ll be able to do so
Americans eye real estate to grow wealth, but few invest in it
Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) say owning rental properties is the best way to earn passive income. Nearly a third as many look to investing in dividend-paying stocks (15%) or fixed-income assets such as bonds (11%). Any other potential source for passive income, such as monetizing a Youtube channel, affiliate marketing, publishing an ebook, or creating an online course rank in the single digits.
In addition to being a boon for passive income, 23% of Americans say investing in real estate is the best way to increase personal wealth, followed by investing in the stock market (16%), starting your own business (15%), or getting a second job/starting a side hustle (12%) Few are likely to look to negotiate a higher salary (8%), switching careers for a more lucrative job (7%), or investing in bonds or CDs (5%).
While real estate is ranked as the best investment option, stocks are most popular: 27% of Americans say they’ve invested in the stock market in the last year while just 12% have invested in real estate. Two in 10 (20%) say they got a second job/started a side hustle, while hardly any say they’ve invested in bonds or CDs (12%), started their own business (11%) or switched careers for a more lucrative job (10%).
But, few Americans are active investors: 40% do not own real estate, individual stocks, mutual funds, bonds or exchange-traded funds, up slightly from August 2021 (35%). Among those who haven’t invested, 47% cite a lack of funds as the primary reason, followed by not knowing how to invest (19%), fear of risk (16%), preference for other investments like oil or gold (7%) or that they’re saving for a large purchase (3%), all roughly on par from last year.
Americans of color are even less likely to have investments: 58% of Blacks along 56% of Hispanics and 40% of Asians don’t own real estate, individual stocks, mutual funds, bonds or exchange-traded funds compared with 33% of whites.
Crypto investment risks heighten
Six in 10 (60%) Americans rate the risk of investing in crypto as “high” – a 15-point increase from 45% in August 2021. Just over a quarter (26%) rate investing in the digital currency as a “moderate” risk while hardly any say it’s “low” (5%) or no risk (5%).
Even current crypto investors remain bearish: 60% of current crypto investors say the risk of investing in crypto is “high” while a near equal number of non-crypto investors say the same (56%).
The currency remains among the least popular investment option: just 10% say they invest in cryptocurrency, roughly unchanged from August of last year (11%). Yet, young adults remain the biggest crypto advocates: 15% of millennials invest in crypto – the highest across all generations (12% of Gen-Z; 12% of Gen-X; 4% of Boomers and 3% of the Silent Generation invest in crypto).
This study was conducted with our integrated market research panel. Read more about our polling methodology here.
Click through all the results in the interactive toplines below: