It’s been said that men think about something every seven seconds. But depending on your age, that something may actually be money.
Money and work dominate our daily thoughts, according to data from a report by GOBankingRates. About 1 in 4 Americans said that money is the thing they think about most on a daily basis—and another 1 in 4 spent most of their time thinking about work.
And that’s pretty consistent across age groups and income—the only figure higher is seniors worrying about their health and young millennials (ages 18 to 24) thinking about their love lives.
Baby boomers and seniors said that their biggest financial challenge was planning for retirement, while younger people were most concerned with paying for college and sticking to a budget.
When asked about their financial fears, Americans said they are most worried about being in debt forever and living paycheck to paycheck their entire lives. Those concerns were, unsurprisingly, much more common among millennials, whose wealth accumulation was stymied by the recent financial crisis.
Even if we only include millennials who are living independently (excluding the full third of young Americans who are still living with mom and dad), the median young adult’s net worth was about 30 percent lower in 2013 than in 1989, according to a recent study by the St. Louis Fed.
As you might expect, millennials are the least likely to be afraid of losing all their money in the stock market: Only 3 percent report that. That makes sense because only a quarter of the age group owns stocks to begin with. Older respondents were more worried about being too poor to retire or having their identities stolen.
But not all is lost: Young adults today may have fewer assets and higher debts, but they are more likely to have a retirement account and to own their own home and stocks than people a few decades ago, according to the Fed study. They have massive student loans, but they have less credit-card and automobile debt.
Private-sector employees worked an average of 34.6 hours a week in August, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from a low of 33.7 in June 2009 and the highest figure for the month of August since 2007.
Overall, Americans are the most optimistic about their finances as they’ve been since the recession, according to a financial security index created by Country Financial. But fewer than half of all millennials are confident that they can pay their debts as they come due, and financial fears are still alive and well throughout the country.
Results for the GOBankingRate study was compiled from five Google Consumer Surveys conducted in July and August. Sample sizes ranged from 1,000 to 10,003 respondents of U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Surveys are representative of the U.S. Internet population with a margin of error of 2.2 percent or lower. Click here for a complete methodology.