Education spending has surpassed loss of employment, poor investment or business performance and supporting others as the top financial disruptors among Americans, according to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted on behalf of TD Ameritrade.

In 2019, 16% of Americans said education expenses had a negative effect on their finances compared to 15% in 2014. The impact felt by education expenses is widespread, with 45 million Americans contributing to the $1.6 trillion in student loan debt, the survey noted.

On the other hand, just 15% in 2019 said they were affected by loss of employment or a lower paid job, that figure stood at 43% in 2014.

Additionally, 13% of respondents in 2019 said supporting others affected their long-term financial plans, compared to 24% five years ago; and only 10% had poor investment/business performance as their main financial obstacle in 2019, while 28% in 2014 said it got in the way.

The survey found that supporting others financially is by far the most financially impactful disruption, resulting in 80% lower median monthly savings/investments.

Millennials in the survey were most likely to experience financial disruptions across nearly every category. Compared to other generations, they had significantly higher expenses related to education, planned family and planned home.

And while millennials struggle more with supporting others (18%), baby boomers (12%) and Gen Xers (12%) were fairly close behind. All three generations struggled with loss of employment. Divorce affected baby boomers (12%) slightly more than it did Gen Xers (10%).

Respondents indicated that they feel better prepared for a financial disruption in 2019 than five years ago. The survey found that 48% in 2019 had a steady, reliable income versus 40% in 2014; 45% in 2019 had money/savings put aside “for a rainy day” versus 33% in 2014; 25% in 2019 had to stop saving/investing for the long-term/retirement versus 38% in 2014; and 20% in 2019 had to withdraw money from their retirement savings versus 26% in 2014.

More than half of the respondents experiencing financial disruptions, 56%, are still behind on their long-term financial goals.

Moreover, financial consequences of disruptions are lasting 33% longer than five years ago, on average: Iin 2019, Americans noted that disruptions lasted six years and three months versus four years and eight months in 2014.

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