Americans face unprecedented financial pressures from inflation, high interest rates, and resuming student loan payments. Roughly 77% still think they’ll overcome the challenges to achieve financial prosperity.
The financial squeeze many Americans feel is fueled by an extended period of inflation, student loan payments, and elevated interest rates. Despite the hardships, middle-income Americans remain resilient in their pursuit of prosperity. In a survey released by Santander last month, 77% of respondents with incomes between $47,000 to $142,000 annually believe they’ll achieve financial prosperity within the next 10 years.
Barriers to prosperity
The overwhelmingly positive sentiment among middle-class Americans doesn’t negate the pressures they’re currently facing. A major concern for one-third of middle-income households is resuming student loan payments. Sixty-nine percent of respondents with student loans felt that reintroducing student loan payments to their monthly budget would impact their ability to achieve prosperity. Additionally, survey respondents reported the following conditions as primary obstacles to their goal of building wealth:
- Inflation - 51%
- Debt - 15%
- Slow wage growth - 10%
Despite these barriers, 68% of middle-class households held firm in the belief that they are on the right track to financial prosperity, with the number unchanged from the second quarter.
Higher savings yields
Although several factors are detracting from people’s ability to build financial prosperity, there are still some circumstances working in their favor. While borrowing interest rates have increased in alignment with the Fed rate hikes, the annual percentage yields (APYs) on savings accounts have risen too. By taking advantage of FDIC-backed savings returns, many consumers could maintain the liquidity necessary in a high-inflation environment while earning more on their savings balances.
Today, many high-yield savings accounts carry yields stretching into 5% APY, which means holding higher savings balances could earn greater returns than in previous years. Even though there’s potential for savers to benefit from higher yields, two in three respondents reported receiving less than 3% APY. Another 66% of middle-income survey respondents haven’t moved their money to take advantage of the higher APY environment since early 2022.
Entrepreneurship as a wealth builder
A key finding of this survey was the role entrepreneurship could play in generating financial prosperity. Two-thirds of middle-class Americans considered owning a business as a way to become wealthy. Black and Hispanic/Latino respondents were even more likely to hold this belief at 74% and 69%, respectively. However, the people who saw potential for wealth-building through business ownership also recognized hurdles that could prevent them from starting. Just over one-half of the people surveyed noted a lack of know-how on business ownership, and another 60% found financing to be the biggest challenge.
Seychelle is a seasoned financial professional turned personal finance writer. She’s passionate about empowering people to make smart financial decisions by combining 10 years of finance industry experience with solid research and a wealth of knowledge. Seychelle is also a Nav-certified credit and lending expert who has explored money topics such as debt consolidation, budgeting, credit, and lending in her work for publications including GOBankingRates, LendEDU, and Credible.
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