••• financial research

Despite most Americans having modest expectations of what it means to attain financial freedom, just 11% report they are living their definition of it, according to a new survey by digital personal finance company Achieve.

Amid a challenging economic landscape including a potential recession, consumer credit card debt surpassing $1 trillion and the restart of student loan repayment on the horizon, it's understandable that many Americans are feeling financially defeated. The survey asked consumers to select the ideas of financial freedom that they most agreed with and found the most common definitions were living debt-free (54.2%); living comfortably but not necessarily being rich (50%); the ability to regularly meet all their financial obligations and still have some money left over each month (49%); and never having to worry about money (46%). Far fewer respondents believe financial freedom means being rich (13%) or having enough money to give up working altogether (32%).

While attitudes about most topics can vary wildly across generations, when it comes to defining financial freedom, it's unanimous: living debt-free tops the list. More than half of consumers across each generation surveyed agreed that being debt-free is their No. 1 financial goal (52% of Gen Z, 56% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X, 55% of Baby Boomers). Baby Boomers (15%) are the generation most likely to be living their definition of financial freedom, compared to Gen X (8%), Millennials (9%) and Gen Z (12%).

Over half of respondents (58%) indicated that they are not anywhere close to reaching their personal definition of financial freedom. At the forefront of this challenge is that many Americans lack a well-funded savings account, with 40% of respondents lacking a basic bank savings account. Among those that do have a savings account, 36% said they have less than $1,000 in it. 

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