5 Biggest Money Concerns of Americans in 2024 and How To Solve Them

EmirMemedovski / iStock/Getty Images
EmirMemedovski / iStock/Getty Images

Matters of finance are amongst the biggest stressors people in America have. A recent Mind Over Money survey by Capital One and The Decision Lab found that 77% of Americans stress over their financial situation. Everything from keeping up with the cost of living to managing debt levels to saving enough money contributes to this anxiety and, in some cases, leads to stress and fatigue in other areas of life.

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Not everyone experiences the same money concerns in equal proportion. However, if you’ve ever felt stressed about your finances, just know you’re not alone.

GOBankingRates also conducted a survey to determine the five biggest money-related concerns Americans have in 2024. Here are the results and some expert advice on how to solve them.

32% of Americans Are Anxious About Not Earning Enough

Nearly a third of all survey respondents indicated that their most prevalent money concern is that they don’t have enough income.

“The top money concerns highlighted in this survey are not surprising. I hear the same ones expressed in my office often. While all five concerns address different aspects of an individual’s finances, the solutions to each share a commonality — motivation and discipline,” said Curt Scott, president at Scott Financial Group. “When someone decides to take control of their finances, there really is no secret formula for success. It takes motivation to get started and discipline to keep going.”

So, what can someone do about this?

“Not having enough money comes down to how valuable someone is to an employer or customer,” said Scott. “If you create true value, compensation should follow. If it doesn’t, you either need to change jobs and go someplace where your value is appreciated, or you’ll need to use motivation and discipline to develop the skills to make yourself invaluable.”

If you’re otherwise happy with your job but you wish you had a little bit extra, you can always add a small secondary income source to alleviate some stress.

“You can try side gigs like driving for DoorDash or Uber, pet sitting, cleaning houses, mowing lawns, or babysitting,” said Todd Stearn, founder of The Money Manual. “You can even make extra cash from your phone in your free time with apps like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, Cashyy, and Mistplay that pay you to take surveys and play games.”

These methods aren’t for everyone, and they won’t work in all cases, but they’re a start.

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26% of Americans Are Stressed About Not Saving Enough

The second most common money concern, with roughly a quarter of respondents citing it, is the inability to save enough money.

“Money is hard to save, no question. But it’s also indispensable for financial stability. Consider setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account every payday. You can set these up so you don’t have to think about them,” said Erika Kullberg, personal finance expert and founder of Erika.com.

“Not being able to save money comes down to delaying gratification,” added Scott. “Someone struggling with this needs to determine why they are delaying gratification. Is it retirement? A vacation? A house? Kids’ college? Whatever it is, you need to want it bad enough to create the motivation and discipline needed to set money aside each pay[check] to save for a future use.”

24% of Americans Are Concerned About Excessive Debt

Also perhaps unsurprisingly is that roughly one in four Americans worry about having too much debt. How much debt is too much depends entirely on your situation and your ability to manage those monthly payments — and pay it off.

But whether you owe $1,000 or $100,000, debt can be the source of some major anxiety.

“Debt can easily feel like an impossible mountain to climb, but if you approach it with a clear plan, the path starts to feel less impossible,” said Kullberg. “Pay back debt with the highest interest rate first (the avalanche method) to minimize the interest you actually pay overall. If you find this demotivating, try to pay off the smallest debts first and build confidence (the snowball method). You could also condense your high-interest debts into one, lower-interest loan.”

Whatever method you choose, or even if you decide on a completely different one, the key is to have a plan and stick with it as much as possible. Try not to overwhelm yourself by tackling all of your debts at once. Start with one at a time and go from there.

19% of Americans Are Worried About Living Within Their Means

Living within your means can be tough, especially if you’re already juggling too many expenses or are also struggling with debt. But learning how to do it — which, admittedly, can take time — is key to your financial well-being.

“Like with not saving enough, setting a budget will help those who have difficulty living within their means,” said Stearn. “Trying to avoid spending ‘too much’ is no substitute for a carefully planned budget that tells you exactly how much discretionary income you have available at all times.”

Track your income and spending for a few months. Write down every expense, no matter how small it might seem. That $1.79 you spent at the gas station on a bottled soda? Write it down. The $77.87 grocery bill? Write it down. Be sure to indicate what each expense was on — or at least the overall category (like food, entertainment, or utilities).

At the end of each month, tally up everything to determine how much you spent and on what. This will help you understand where your money’s going and where you might be able to truly cut back.

Kullberg also suggested differentiating between your wants and needs to avoid unnecessary spending. At the same time, use cash or a debit card rather than credit to prevent spending what you don’t have.

13% of Americans Are Concerned About a Lack of Financial Literacy

A relatively small percentage of survey respondents reported that not having the knowledge to best manage their finances is a major concern for them. But small or not, this is still an important money concern that should be addressed.

“I  would recommend educating yourself as much as possible with regards to personal finance and best practices, including how to build and maintain a budget, savings strategies and more,” said Chris Urban, founder of Discovery Wealth Planning.

“There are many free resources available these days on social media; however, I would be sure to carefully check the credentials and experience of these individuals before seriously considering or implementing any of their recommendations,” Urban continued. “If you have the financial means, it might be worth it to partner with a professional Certified Financial Planner to educate you and perhaps help you with implementation of strategies and get you on a path to success.”

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Biggest Money Concerns of Americans in 2024 and How To Solve Them