Survey: Dental Care Delayed When Money Is Tight

Posted on May 28, 2015

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — A quarter of respondents to a Federal Reserve survey delayed getting needed dental care because finances were too tight.

The survey, released Wednesday, was the central bank’s second survey of household economics and decisionmaking, and was conducted in October and November.

It found, as other surveys have, the inability to respond to emergencies. Only 53% of respondents indicate that they could cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money, the report said.

The survey also found that retirement was just a dream for many households — 38% say they either won’t retire or plan to keep working as longer as possible. That percentage climbs to 55% among those whose household income is less than $40,000 a year.

More broadly, though, households were growing more confident. While there was just a 3 percentage point rise in the percentage of adults (65%) who consider their families to be doing “okay” or living “comfortably,” there was an 8 percentage point gain in the percentage, 29%, who expected their income to be higher in a year.

There’s also general optimism about the housing market. Some 43% say their house increased in value over the last year, and 39% expect home values in their neighborhood to rise in the coming year.

Also of note, education debt has bled well beyond traditional student lenders. The survey finds 14% of those with education debt have financed part of it with credit cards.

Individuals who did not complete an associate or bachelor’s degree, first-generation students, blacks and Hispanics, and those who attended for-profit institutions, are all disproportionately likely to be behind on repaying their student loan debt, the survey added.

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