ACCC White Paper: ACCC has been helping Americans for 30 years prepare for a worst-case financial storm

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American Consumer Credit Counseling’s ‘Financial Health Index’ illustrated, in real time, how COVID-19 delivered critical lessons on financial preparedness.

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The Index continues be a valuable tool for both consumers and ACCC’s financial counseling and budget experts: the quarterly snapshot of household financial health is an important metric for how well Americans are managing debt, saving for emergencies, and preparing for the future.

Today American Consumer Credit Counseling, Inc (ACCC) announced the public release of a white paper, Tracking Financial Health of American Households, that delivers comprehensive findings from more than a year’s worth of quarterly surveys that polled Americans during one of the most devastating ‘Black Swan’ events in history: the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACCC Financial Health Index was launched in January 2020 as a measurement of how American households - with total incomes below $100,000 – view their overall financial preparedness and stability. The quarterly Index uses several key metrics that are gathered from survey responses, processed into data tables, and analyzed by ACCC team members who are expert in best practices for household budgeting, debt management, and credit counseling.

Within weeks of the first survey going into the field, America and much of the world was gripped by fear and uncertainty as COVID-19 began taking lives at an accelerating pace and plunging the U.S. economy into a terminal freefall.

“The debut of the Financial Health Index couldn’t have been timed better for it to become a valuable information resource on how everyday Americans were experiencing the economic pain of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Allen Amadin, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “The Index continues be a valuable tool for both consumers and ACCC’s financial counseling and budget experts: the quarterly snapshot of household financial health is an important metric for how well Americans are managing debt, saving for emergencies, and preparing for the future.”

“The Financial Health Index allowed us to better understand the financial priorities of Americans and the most critical financial challenges they faced as our nation endured during the pandemic year of 2020,” said Katie Ross, Executive Vice President of ACCC and co-author with the late Steve Trumble of the 2012 personal finance book ‘Financial Peace of Mind’. “Our Financial Health Index survey data, information graphics and public releases were distributed to more than 450 organizations and individuals and received media coverage reaching more than 470 million potential readers of the New York Times, US News, Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, The Street.com, ValuePenguin, the Boston Herald, the Boston Business Journal and other outlets.”

Critical takeaways from the Executive Summary of the Tracking Financial Health of American Households white paper:

  • All of the primary issues and conditions that prompt people to seek assistance from ACCC were in some way escalated or worsened for millions of Americans as a result of the economic fallout from COVID-19. This ranges from job loss and lost income to medical disabilities and unexpected expenses.
  • The extremes of household financial impact ranged very broadly over the course of the five financial quarters on which Tracking Financial Health of American Households is based. In March 2020, 80 percent of all those surveyed reported a financial impact from COVID-19. In March 2021, consumer confidence and hope had returned in many American households.
  • The fundamental principles of strong household budgeting, financial readiness and planning, controlling debt, and building emergency savings were vividly illustrated during the pandemic year of 2020. Consumers who had adhered to these principals were better prepared for the economic shock. Those who may not have – but adopted new habits and practices as a result – will be better prepared for unexpected or crisis events in the future.
  • Americans must prepare for a worst-case financial scenario. The COVID-19 pandemic was an economic storm in addition to being an unprecedented public health crisis. It tested the resilience of the U.S. economy and placed historic levels of stress and hardship on the U.S. workforce. This experience underscored – perhaps more than any other event in over 75 years – that American consumers and households must be prepared with a sound financial plan, good budgeting practices, and a combination of emergency savings and responsible debt management.

The comprehensive white paper – Tracking Financial Health of American Households -

“Measuring household financial health and stability during a ‘Black Swan’ event like the global pandemic was an important quarterly initiative that ACCC dedicated its time and resources to for the benefit of all consumers,” said Amadin. “We are confident the Financial Health Index will continue to be a valuable metric and information resource among the array of data sets and other tools used to measure the economic health of our nation.”

American Consumer Credit Counseling, Inc was founded in 1991 by the late Steve Trumble, who dedicated his career to helping Americans take control of their financial lives. ACCC is a nonprofit (501) (c)(3) organization, offering confidential consumer credit counseling services, debt management, budget counseling, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling and financial education to consumers nationwide. ACCC is a leader in the credit counseling industry and is dedicated to helping people regain control of their finances and plan for a debt-free future.

ACCC’s professionally trained and certified counselors assist individuals with all of their financial needs and provide a plan of action to address their financial situation. ACCC is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and is accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating. For more information visit http://www.consumercredit.com.

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Marissa Sullivan
O'Neill and Associates
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