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The current global pandemic has put stress on nearly nine in 10 Americans’ personal finances, according to a new survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). More than half of Americans who participated in the survey reported that they are worried about not having enough money saved, while nearly half—48 percent—stated that they are concerned about being able to pay their bills.

With one in every 10 Americans now seeking unemployment benefits, it is no surprise that more Americans are worried about job security, with 28 percent reporting they are “stressed.” About 75 percent of Americans are making efforts to adjust their finances due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and this includes cutting expenses for two out of five Americans. In doing so, 26 percent have reported that they are putting off major financial decisions, and 22 percent have refocused their attention on increasing contributions to their savings.

Financial well-being is “a state of being wherein a person can fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations, can feel secure in their financial future and is able to make choices that allow them to enjoy life,” according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Financial security is not synonymous with having wealth, as consumers can experience financial well-being—or lack of it—across a wide range of incomes. Instead, it is tied to financial skills and confidence in those skills.

One of the factors that influences one’s financial well-being is one’s housing characteristics. Below are some key findings:

  1. Adults with high levels of housing satisfaction tend to have higher financial well-being than those with lower levels of housing satisfaction. Superficially, this indicates that being satisfied with one’s place of living influences financial well-being, but it is also possible that individuals with higher financial resources and financial well-being have more housing options that meet their needs.
  2. Adults who spend a high percentage of their income on housing tend to have lower financial well-being. Adults who spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing have an average financial well-being score below those who spend 30 percent or less of their income on housing. Families that have to spend so much of their income on housing often have little money left over for other necessities.
  3. Homeowners have higher financial well-being than non-homeowners. While homeownership may increase one’s financial well-being in the long run, it is likely that those who are able to buy a home are in a more secure financial position in terms of income and savings.

Now is the time for financial educators and services in the real estate industry to work together to help families recover from the economic loss they have suffered at the expense of the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping Americans not only helps the financial well-being of households, but also the nation’s economy as a whole.

Desirée Patno is the CEO and president of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE), as well as chairwoman of NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC). With 30 years of experience in housing, Patno is a champion for women’s economic growth and independence. In 2017, Entrepreneur.com named her the Highest-Ranking Woman and 4th Overall Top Real Estate Influencer to Follow. For more information, please visit www.nawrb.com.

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