Executive Summary

Results from the 2022 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED) indicate a decline in peoples' financial well-being over the previous year.1 The survey, which was fielded in October 2022, found that self-reported financial well-being fell sharply and was among the lowest observed since 2016. Similarly, the share of adults who said that they spent less than their income in the month before the survey fell in 2022 from the prior year, while the share who said that their credit card debt increased rose. Among adults who were not retired, the survey also showed a decline in the share who felt that their retirement savings plan was on track, suggesting that individuals had concerns about their future financial security. The declines in financial well-being across these measures provide an indication of how families were affected by broader economic conditions in 2022, such as inflation and stock market declines.

Self-reported financial well-being fell sharply and was among the lowest observed since 2016.

While people expressed concerns about rising prices and their ability to build savings, the survey results indicated continued labor market strength in late 2022. The share of adults who voluntarily quit, asked for a raise, or received a raise increased slightly over the prior year's survey, reflecting the strong labor market. The survey found that the share of prime-age adults not working because of difficulty finding work remained low.

Experiences at work differed, however, based on the amount of education that workers had. Those with a bachelor's degree were more likely than those with less education to be in jobs where they control their schedules, have autonomy over their work activities, or have the ability to telework.

The report also provides insights into other areas that are central to individuals' financial circumstances, including emergency savings, returns to education, housing situations, and retirement savings. Across these topics, the results provide a window into how individuals' financial well-being has changed in recent years. In doing so, it illustrates the diversity of people's financial experiences. This includes notable differences by income, education, race, and ethnicity. Key findings across each of the topics covered in the report include the following:

Overall Financial Well-Being

  • Overall financial well-being declined markedly over the prior year. Seventy-three percent of adults were doing at least okay financially in 2022, down 5 percentage points from 2021.
  • The share of adults who said they were worse off financially than a year earlier rose to 35 percent, the highest level since the question was first asked in 2014.


  • More adults experienced spending increases than income increases. Forty percent of adults said their family's monthly spending increased in 2022 compared with the prior year, while 33 percent said their monthly income increased. While some adults saw both their spending and their income increase, 23 percent of adults said that their spending had increased but their income had not.
  • The share of adults who said they spent less than their income in the month before the survey fell in 2022 to below the level it had been before the pandemic.


  • As an indication of workers' strong labor market options, one-third of adults received a raise or promotion in 2022 and 13 percent of adults asked for a raise or promotion. This compares with 30 percent who received a raise and 9 percent who asked for one in the 2021 survey. Among those who asked for a raise in 2022, 70 percent also said that they received one.
  • Among those working from home at least some of the time, survey results indicate that a requirement to work in person full-time would have similar effects on retention as a 2 to 3 percent pay cut.


  • Consistent with declines in overall financial well-being, 63 percent of adults said they would cover a hypothetical $400 emergency expense exclusively using cash or its equivalent, down from a high of 68 percent in 2021.
  • When asked for the largest expense they could cover using only savings, rather than how they would pay a small emergency expense, 18 percent said the largest expense they could cover with savings was under $100 and an additional 14 percent said the largest expense they could cover was between $100 and $499.
  • Inflation affected people's spending and saving choices in several different ways. Nearly two-thirds of adults stopped using a product or used less because of inflation, 64 percent switched to a cheaper product, and just over one-half (51 percent) reduced their savings in response to higher prices.

Banking and Credit

  • Access to financial services from banks and credit unions, which can be important for people's financial well-being, remained high. In 2022, 94 percent of adults had a bank account although notable gaps remain by income, age, race, ethnicity, and disability status.
  • Use of relatively new financial services like cryptocurrency for transactions and Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) remained low compared with traditional payment and credit methods. Three percent of adults used cryptocurrency for financial transactions and 12 percent used BNPL in the prior year. That said, while still low overall, use tended to be higher among Black and Hispanic adults.


  • While some people chose to rent for convenience, the survey found that financial constraints were often a reason why people rent. Nearly two-thirds of renters said that their inability to afford a down payment to buy a home was a reason they rent. This is consistent with levels seen before the pandemic.
  • Some renters indicated they had difficulty keeping up with their rent payments. Seventeen percent of renters were behind on their rent at some point in the prior year.

Higher Education and Student Loans

  • Education was seen as a path to higher income and greater financial well-being in 2022. More than two-thirds of adults with a bachelor's degree or more said the financial benefits of their education exceeded the cost. However, a lower 3 in 10 of those who started but did not complete at least an associate degree shared this view.
  • People's difficulty handling student loans varied by the level of education they completed. Consistent with their greater earnings potential, those who completed at least a bachelor's degree were less likely to have fallen behind on payments.

Retirement and Investments

  • Progress toward retirement savings goals declined in 2022. Thirty-one percent of non-retirees thought their retirement savings plan was on track, down from 40 percent in 2021.
  • Building retirement savings can have implications for financial well-being later in life. Seventy-nine percent of retirees said they were doing at least okay financially. However, retirees who received income from sources such as wages, pensions, or investments were much more likely to be doing at least okay financially than those who had no private income.




 1. The Federal Reserve has fielded the SHED annually in the fourth quarter of each year since 2013. The latest survey was fielded from October 21 until November 1, 2022. Since over 99.5 percent of respondents completed the survey in October, this report describes the field period as October 2022. The anonymized data, as well as appendixes containing the complete SHED questionnaire and responses to all questions in the order asked, are also available at https://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerscommunities/shed.htmReturn to text

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Last Update: June 02, 2023