The percentage of US bank customers that are financially healthy remains near an all-time low. But four-in-five customers plan to eliminate debt, improve budgeting and set specific savings goals in 2024 reports JD Power.

It says that customers’ financial health remains troublingly low. Just more than one-fourth (29%) of respondents are financially healthy, while 46% fall into the vulnerable category. These numbers are in line with the previous three months.

Customer sentiment regarding financial health, stress and empowerment to improve one’s financial situation remain virtually unchanged from the previous month. What’s more, 40% of customers remain extremely worried that the prices for common goods will continue to rise.

With the start of the new year, many customers are inspired to improve their financial health. More than one-third (36%) of customers say they plan to pay down debt throughout 2024. Some 33% say they will create a budget or spending plan, and 29% say they will establish an emergency fund. All these response levels reflect year-over-year increases from December 2022. Notably, customers under the age of 40 were more likely to say they would make these changes.

When asked which tools that banks provide are particularly helpful to achieving these goals, credit score reporting (66%); spending summary or analysis (66%); and savings goals and budget trackers (60%) rank high. Financially health customers are more likely to find tools helpful, and younger customers are more likely to utilise these tools.

The stress test

When customers who do not use tools that banks offer to improve their financial situation were asked why, 49% said they already have their own system to monitor their finances. 25% said they get this support from outside their bank.

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JD Power says that there is also an emotional barrier to tool adoption. About one-fifth (21%) say that looking this closely at their finances causes them added stress. Another 17% say these tools make them feel worse about their finances. When asked what drives overall stress, 31% of customers say finances, the highest response rate of any reason. JD Power suggests that customers need to feel like they have a partner to improve financial health. Banks can be integral to that journey. But only if customers feel that they are not being judged and that their financial institution has a real plan to move forward.