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Americans’ Financial Confidence Declines as Inflation Increases

Gen Z and Millennials Feel the Immediate Impact of Increased Monthly Bills

CHICAGO, March 17, 2022 - As inflation rates hit a four-decade high, financial confidence among Americans, especially those between the ages of 18 and 24, has experienced a significant decrease in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2021. Only 65% of those between ages 18-24 feel confident about their finances, down from 75% in the last quarter of 2021 and compared to 75% of all age groups surveyed this quarter. These are just some of the findings from the latest BMO Real Financial Progress Index, which measures American’s sentiment around financial confidence. The Index shows a steady decline in American's financial confidence since the middle of last year and is down three points from year end.

Top Causes of Financial Anxiety
Americans’ anxiety around their overall finances has increased, up 3 points since year end to 81%. The steepest increase is among Gen Z, up six points to 93% from the end of 2021.

Other cited causes of financial anxiety:

  • Family-related expenses: up 5 points nationally to 69%, and up 13 points to 80% among those aged 18-24.
  • Keeping up with monthly bills: up 3 points nationally to 62%, and up 10 points to 82% for those aged 18-24.
  • Fear of unknown expenses: up 3 points nationally to 84%, and up 6 points to 88% for those aged 18-24.

Rising Monthly Bills as a Top Inhibitor of Financial Progress
The drop in financial confidence and increase in financial anxiety has not had a massive impact holistically on Americans’ ability to make financial progress - a feeling that remained relatively flat from the end of last year (48% vs. 46%.) However, those aged 25-35 are down 5 points and 35-44 are down 4 points since year end. When examining why, keeping up with monthly bills was a top driver inhibiting these age groups from making real financial progress.

Nearly a third of Americans (31%) said keeping up with monthly bills was their top barrier to making real financial progress, up 3% from the end of last year. When examined by age group, 40% of Gen Z (ages 18-24) and 39% of Millennials (ages 35-44) listed keeping up with monthly bills as their top barrier to financial progress.

“We’re experiencing the steepest increase in the Consumer Price Index in more than 30 years, a circumstance that those under the age of 50 have never experienced before,” said Paul Dilda, head of consumer strategy for BMO Harris Bank. “No matter the stage of your financial journey, now is a great time to seek advice from an expert who can help guide you through the current economic shifts and provide advice on best ways to save, effectively monitor your spending and plan your financial future.” 

BMO offers the following tips to keep up with the rising rates of inflation and to help Americans make financial progress during this time:

  • Automate saving into a savings account: Having money (ideally 10%) automatically deducted from your paycheck ensures savings for unexpected expenses – including rising monthly bills.
  • Reset monthly budgets based on recent bills: With the rise in inflation leading to higher costs for consumers, bills are bound to go up. It is crucial to revisit your monthly budget based on recent bills to get an updated view of your current financial situation. Where possible, call and negotiate lower bills such as cable, cell phone, etc.
  • Invest in your earning potential: With the ‘Great Resignation’ taking the U.S. by storm, there is an opportunity to upgrade your income by learning new skills. There may be more opportunities with higher pay opening in sectors such as healthcare and tech support.
  • Seek advice: Start/review your financial plan with your financial advisor to ensure savings and spending goals are still on track. If not, make adjustments. Time is a limited resource and in the long run, experts are a good investment and can monitor and help grow your portfolio.

About the BMO Real Financial Progress Index
Launched in February 2021, the BMO Real Financial Progress Index is an indicator of how consumers feel about their personal finances and whether they are making financial progress. The index aims to spark dialogue that will help consumers reach their financial goals and to humanize a topic that causes anxiety for many – money.

The research detailed in this document was conducted by Ipsos in the United States from Jan. 7-28, 2022. A sample of n=3,400 U.S. adults ages 18+ were collected. Quotas and weighting were used to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. population according to census parameters.

For more information on how BMO's products and services can help consumers make real financial progress, visit

​​About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 500 branches and fee-free access to over 40,000 ATMs across the United States. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the United States. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, visit the company fact sheet. Accounts are subject to approval. BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a highly diversified financial services provider with total assets of CDN$1.02 trillion as of January 31, 2022.


SOURCE BMO Harris Bank


For further information: Media contact: Kathleen Szot, BMO Harris Bank,, 312-881-0388