A fifth of Americans feel financially unprepared, even though they’re doing the best thing for their future

Being good with money doesn't come naturally to most people.

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Being good with money doesn’t come naturally to most people.
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hsyncoban/Getty

Being good with money doesn’t come naturally to most people.

But even some Americans who have taken steps to do better don’t feel great about their financial health.

That’s according to a recent survey by Insider and Morning Consult, which asked around 2,000 Americans about their debt, earnings, and savings for a new series, “The State of Our Money.”

Of those who have a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or IRA, and contribute to it, 22% still feel like their financial health is not very good or not good at all.

The folks who save in a retirement account are in the minority, however. According to the survey, exactly half of Gen Xers have a retirement savings account, though only 36% are actively saving. A slightly larger share of millennials have a retirement account (54%), but only about 41% are contributing to it.

But retirement needs differ for everyone and respondents didn’t disclose how much they’re saving. Some may feel like it’s less than they should be saving to achieve their goals.

Plus, retirement savings is only one aspect of our larger financial picture. It’s possible the survey respondents who don’t feel good financially still have low-interest debt to pay off, but are contributing to their retirement plan to score a match or take advantage of time in the market – a wise move, according to most financial planners.

But among the respondents who have paid off credit-card debt, one-third still think their financial health is not very good or not good at all, the survey found. Of respondents who have paid off a student loan, 32% still said their financial health is bad.

The survey findings also underscored that a high salary doesn’t automatically signal financial stability – in fact, income has little to do with how well a person is doing by traditional financial markers. Of the survey respondents who earn more than $100,000 a year, 18% still think their financial health is bad.

Still, the survey found that millennials in particular are positive when it comes to peer comparison – 46% think they’re much better or somewhat better off than others their age (the remaining 17% said they didn’t know).

This all goes to show that between retirement savings, debt, and income, there are several factors contributing to a healthy financial life – or at least, the perception of one.

Check back on “The State of Our Money” throughout the month for more findings and analysis.