Financial Wellness Census

We’re Average Students, Getting a “C” When It Comes To Understanding Finances, Americans Say

Not surprising, they spend more time online than time managing their finances

New data from the Prudential Financial Wellness Census

April 10, 2019– NEWARK, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than half of Americans say they’d earn a “C” or lower when it comes to financial literacy, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU). Nearly three quarters (73%) take responsibility for their own grade. That’s not such a surprise given that nearly half of American adults (46%) spend more than two hours on social media each week, while fewer than a fifth (17%) spend that much time managing their finances.

Information overload may be to blame. Two thirds of Americans (66%) say the list of things they need to learn to successfully manage their finances keeps on growing, not shrinking.

“Our industry needs to drive home the importance of financial education, and lead the way in providing it, to help clear a path toward financial wellness,” said Caroline Feeney, head of Individual Solutions at Prudential. “It’s important for us to help Americans understand how to manage day-to-day finances, achieve important financial goals and protect against future financial risks.”

Among other key findings:

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of Americans say their debt is higher than their retirement savings
  • 15% of Americans who say they have no debt also have saved nothing toward retirement
  • Only 12% of Americans would use a financial windfall to add to retirement savings—worth considering as they head toward the April 15 tax deadline and the potential for refunds

Previous data from Prudential’s Financial Wellness Census shows more than a quarter of Americans have a skewed sense of their financial health, with many optimistic about their financial future despite objective measures showing them falling behind in achieving their financial goals. In fact, the census data showed less than half of Americas are on track to meet their goals, including planning for retirement.

Financial literacy programs and professional financial advice can play a key role to get Americans back on the right track. According to the Census, while nearly two thirds of Americans don’t have a financial advisor, many say they cannot afford one (42%) or that they have enough assets to need an advisor’s help (26%). The truth is that advice is more within reach than ever before—and it’s not just for the wealthy.

“Advisors are increasingly playing the role of financial counselor, helping consumers make the shift from retirement uncertainty and financial insecurity into actions that help them to achieve financial wellness before and into retirement,” said Feeney. “Our lifelong personal financial wellness journeys often require a combination of smart solutions, good advice and guidance about appropriate investment tools and products.”

Today, people can access advice along the spectrum, from self-directed methods, to hybrid advisors who serve as coaches help clients along the self-directed path to full-service, high-touch advice. Prudential, in part, supports individuals in finding their path to financial wellness as a founding member of the Alliance for Lifetime Income, where the company playing a leading role in launching awareness and education campaigns for consumers and financial professionals about the importance of lifetime income. More information is available at

Our lifelong personal financial wellness journeys often require a combination of smart solutions, good advice and guidance about appropriate investment tools and products...

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Prudential from March 26 – 28, 2019 among 2,045 U.S. adults aged 18+. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Prudential.




About Prudential Financial, Inc.
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit
The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, NJ.