Prosper study shows many teetering on financial precipice

The results of a study released by Prosper Marketplace show many Americans have at best tenuous control over their finances.

The Prosper Marketplace Financial Wellness Study surveyed 1,000 American adults with financial decision-making power.

Close to one in four respondents (21.9 percent) take the Alfred E. Neumann approach by remaining completely oblivious to their financial standing. More than one in three (35.8 percent) do not feel they are in control of their finances, while 42.6 are not actively trying to get their finances in order. Close to half are living check to check.

With numbers like that, it should come as no surprise that only 18.4 percent strongly agreed they have the financial freedom to make purchases which help them enjoy life more.

A sudden financial shock is likely to put more than half in a tough spot. The scariest aspect of this is the group with the least confidence is people over the age of 55, so if you are younger, reading this, and behind on the rent, it may be best to not hit up Dad or Grandma for a loan. Millennials seem to realize this as 54 percent are confident they can handle a financial surprise.

The extra expenses children bring seem to help people focus their finances, as the group most confident they can withstand a negative financial surprise, at 59 percent, are parents with children under 18. The authors suggest parenting forces people to budget. Another possibility is the frequency of addressing the extra expenses a family brings teaches one the sun always comes up tomorrow.

Of course, financial problems are easier to address if one has money saved and is disciplined with their use of credit. Only one in eight strongly feel they will never be in debt while one in three have less than $1,000 in the bank

Barely half (54.5 percent) pay their entire credit card balances each month, while 19.4 percent pay none in full. One-third do not pay more than the minimum.

Americans are slowly warming to the use of apps, the study found. More than half of males (51 percent) who use apps have investing apps, while only 29 percent of women do.

Roughly one in three people do not use financial management apps or websites. One in four use one, while 30.6 percent use two or three.

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