Financial Literacy - Growing your bottom line
Americans have faith in the stock market

Predictably, 41 percent of those earning less than $20,000 per year pointed to poor compensation as the biggest problem. But they are far from alone. Twenty-two percent of those earning between $40,000 and $49,000 believe they're underpaid, as do 14 percent of those making more than $50,000.

Credit card debt, much maligned as the bane of modern existence, barely registered in the survey as a budget-breaking factor. Only 6 percent of Americans say their credit card debt is holding them back.

"That fits what the Fed statistics tell us about who does owe money and has credit card debt," says Weston.

"A lot of personal finance writers have trouble accepting that there are households out there that do not have credit card debt because we don't hear from those folks. We hear from the ones that are several tens of thousands of dollars in debt and losing their homes," she says.

Growing the bottom line

Maybe it's a vestige of America's puritanical beginnings, but Americans are prudent and hard working when it comes to growing their wealth.

In response to the question, "In the future, what do you envision as your best option to get ahead?" the largest percentage of respondents -- 36 percent -- said that they plan to get ahead through saving and investing a portion of earnings.

"It's very sensible for the most part," Weston says. "The majority are looking at very sensible ways -- investing in themselves or investing in the stock market or investing in their own abilities to earn money."


Nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) expect to get ahead through additional education or job training. Notably, more than 50 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 chose the education route while people between the ages of 35 and 64 were more likely to point to savings as their best option.

"If anything, this is reassuring," McBride says.

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