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Introduction

The broad discussion in many circles about the plight of the non-prime consumer often uses assumptions about how these consumers think, what matters to them, and even what would be good for them. However, there is limited data that really explains their circumstances.

 

Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class set out to understand the differences in attitudes, experiences and behavior between consumers with prime credit and those with non-prime credit.

 

This study represents results from the survey of 1,217 Americans, using interviews conducted December 6-14, 2016.

 

Executive Summary

  • Non-prime Millennials struggle to make ends meet
    • 58% find themselves living paycheck to paycheck
    • 41% of them report that they run out of money every other month, or more often
  • Non-prime Millennials worry about their finances and are less confident that they can meet financial goals
    • Half worry all the time about being able to meet monthly living expenses
    • 13% admit that it is difficult to predict their month-to-month income
    • 41% express confidence they can meet short-term financial goals; prime = 65%
  • Only half say that they are good at dealing with day-to-day financial matters; prime = 73%
  • 64% say that they have too much debt right now, twice as likely as prime
  • Are more likely to experience unexpected car repairs or non-routine medical expenses

When’s payday?

A majority of non-prime Millennials are living paycheck to paycheck.

 

Even 1 in 4 prime Millennials are living paycheck to paycheck.

 

They are 81% more likely than their non-Millennial prime counterparts (14%). 

 

 

Q27. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 is ‘strongly agree’, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

How often have Millennials run out of money in the prior 12 months?

2 in 5 non-prime Millennials are running out of money at least every other month.

 

Even prime millennials are not as stable as the average prime person. 

 

 

Q12. In the past 12 months, how often has your household run out of money before the end of the month, including when you had to use credit to get by?

 

Are the lights still on?  

Almost half of non-prime Millennials worry “all the time” about whether they will be able to meet monthly living expenses.

 

Even 1 in 4 prime Millennials worry about meeting expenses, which is twice the rate at which non-Millennial prime Americans worry about it (12%). 

 

 

Q27. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 is ‘strongly agree’, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

Predictability of monthly income  

13% of non-prime Millennials express difficulty in predicting their month-to-month income. 

 

 

Q11. How easy or difficult is it for you to predict next month’s income for your household? Would you say it is...?

 

They’ve got this… or do they?   

Only half of non-prime Millennials feel that they are adept at dealing with day-to-day financial matters, compared to three quarters of their prime counterparts. 

 

 

Q27. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 is ‘strongly agree’, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

They’ve got this, part 2  

Half of non-prime Millennials feel that they have what it takes to manage finances well. 

 

 

Q27. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 is ‘strongly agree’, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

Up to their necks  

Non-prime Millennials are twice as likely to say that they have too much debt right now.

 

They are also the 23% more likely to feel this way compared to non-Millennial non-primes (52%). 

 

 

Q27. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 is ‘strongly agree’, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

Confidence in ability to save money today  

Prime Millennials are 59% more likely to express confidence compared to their non-prime counterparts that they can meet short-term savings goals.

 

 

Q27. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 is ‘strongly agree’, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

Broken down  

Non-prime Millennials are 17% more likely to have experienced a car repair in the last 12 months, compared to their prime counterparts. 

 

 

Q13. In the previous 12 months, please indicate if you or anyone else in your household experienced any of the following events?

 

Broken down, part 2  

Non-prime Millennials are 34% more likely to have experienced a non-routine medical expense in the last 12 months, compared to their prime counterparts. 

 

 

Q13. In the previous 12 months, please indicate if you or anyone else in your household experienced any of the following events?

 

Methodology 

The primary purpose of this study was to determine how non-prime Americans were similar or different from those with prime credit on a range of behaviors and attitudes.

Interview Dates: December 6-14, 2016

 

Sample Specs:

  • Total Respondents = 1,217
  • Sample Source: Research Now Consumer Panel

Qualification Criteria:

  • Ages 18-64
  • Personal income: Any
  • Geography – U.S. Rep
  • Has primary or shared responsibility managing HH finances
  • Employment: No students or unemployed
  • Has a checking or savings account

Survey Instrument: 15 minute online questionnaire