Financial Literacy - How to Prosper
Americans not confident about getting rich

Job loss can certainly impede financial security, but most people don't understand that the typical job isn't a reliable avenue toward wealth.

What is the biggest obstacle to achieving prosperity?

"My personal perspective -- as an investment adviser and business owner -- is that our American entrepreneurial spirit has faltered. We focus on the trees and miss the forest entirely! Too much talk about investing and debt, and minimum wages, and too little about economic engines that create real wealth," says Danford.

"The surest avenue toward getting rich requires both good financial habits and an entrepreneurial spirit," he says.

Eleven percent of respondents say that credit card debt is their biggest obstacle to wealth.

Todd Tresidder, a self-made multimillionaire and financial coach at, surmises that those with credit card debt and too many bills are more committed to their lifestyle rather than to building wealth.

"They're concerned with job security because they are spending everything they make," he says.

"These things are symptoms. If you're committed to building wealth, then you prioritize your spending in a different way so you don't end up with any of these symptoms at all," says Tresidder.

Some people find themselves in circumstances beyond their control. Eleven percent of those surveyed say that health problems or medical bills are their biggest obstacles and 4 percent cite family disruptions such as divorce or caring for relatives.

What are you doing to secure your financial future?

Lack of focus on savings

Almost everyone is doing some belt tightening these days, but only half of Americans are saving regularly.

"Seventy-five percent say they have cut back spending to save more, but just 52 percent are saving consistently. Some of the people that say they have cut back, maybe they haven't cut back like they thought or their cutbacks haven't been as fruitful as they think," says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at

"Or they cut back but the money gets frittered away somewhere else," he says.

One-third of respondents say they are working more than one job or have a hobby that generates a second income.

Nearly eight out of 10 (78 percent) avoid buying luxury goods or unnecessary items. Only 66 percent of those 18 to 29 say they are doing that as opposed to 83 percent of those in the 30 to 49 age bracket.

In the end, not buying luxury items won't make you rich unless you take the money you're saving and put it in a savings or investment account or use it to start your own business.

Results are based on telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults, age 18 and over. The interviews were conducted from Nov. 12 through Nov. 15, 2009, under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Interviews were conducted on landline and cell phones using random digit dial, or RDD, sample. Sample demographics were weighted to match population parameters derived from the Census Bureaus' 2007 Annual Social and Economic Supplement data. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for results based on the total sample. Results based on smaller subgroups are subject to larger margins of sampling error. In addition to sampling error, the practical difficulties of conducting surveys can also introduce error or bias to poll results. For full results and methodology, download this PDF.

For more information about attaining wealth, see Bankrate's Financial Literacy series on How to Prosper.

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