Survey: 59% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck but 60% believe they will be wealthy

Americans have a certain pie-in-the-sky outlook on their financial future. Two-thirds (60%) are optimistic that they will be wealthy some day.

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Despite an impressive amount of spending based on what they see their friends doing on social media, 59% of Americans consider themselves savers, and 65% consider themselves willing to sacrifice spending to save something for later.

That may be partly wishful thinking, however. The majority (59%) of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. A near-majority, 44%, say they usually carry a credit-card balance or have a hard time keeping up with bill or payments.

Only 38% have built up an emergency fund. And they spend $483 each month on non-essentials.

Yet, in spite of these realities, Americans have a certain pie-in-the-sky outlook on their financial future. Two-thirds (60%) are optimistic that they will be wealthy some day – 27% think that day will come in 15 years.

And if money fell from the sky and they won the lottery for $1 million dollars? Let’s just say the majority of Americans would not pay off bills, help out their family members, and set money aside for retirement.

  • 54% would spend it
  • 28% would pay off debt
  • 23% would invest it
  • 21% would save it
  • 7% would donate it

We’re a nation teetering between spending it all and abstemiousness. If anything, the survey revealed Americans’ love/hate relationship with money.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.