How to Determine Your Level of Financial Distress

Unlock Your Wealth Radio recommends taking a survey to determine your level of financial distress.

Determining your financial distress from the ever so popular financial tool, the Personal Financial Wellness (PFW) scale has never been so easy. This tool was formed in Washington, D.C. in 2004 by a non-profit group whose primary focus is determining the financial education in the workplace. The PFW scale is an eight-question survey which measures a person’s perception of his or her own financial distress or well-being. Whether you’re retired or still saving for retirement, you can use the questions from the survey to determine your financial health.

Take a sample survey to determine your level of financial distress. For results reference to the bottom of page.

Sample questions from the Personal Financial Wellness Scale:

1. How confident are you that you could find the money to pay for a financial emergency that costs about $1,000?

1– no confidence, 4 is little confidence, 7 is some confidence, 10 is high confidence

2. How frequently do you find yourself just getting by financially and living paycheck to paycheck?

1 — all the time, 4 is sometimes, 7 is rarely, 10 is never

3. How stressed do you feel about your personal finances in general?

1 — overwhelming stress, 4 is high stress, 7 is low stress, 10 is no stress at all.

Tally the response that is most appropriate for your situation. Total your score and divide by three. The answer gives you a sense of your financial health. Any score below 5 would be cause for concern.

According to Judith Cohart, the president of the PFEEF, scoring less than 5 is a clear sign that you’re in terrible financial shape and that it’s high time to consider some basic financial planning tools and techniques. “If you score below 5 for anything, you’re in trouble,” Cohart says. “There’s no simple solution to this. And I don’t see a different answer for a retiree.”

To be fair, you wouldn’t be alone if you’re experiencing extreme financial distress. Nearly one in three Americans responding to the PFEEF’s most recent survey were in the worst state of financial distress; they scored 1 to 4. By contrast, some 44% of survey respondents reported having an average amount of financial distress (they scored 5 or 6), and about one in four (24%) report having little financial distress (they scored 7 to 10). Of note, the average score in the PFEEF’s latest survey was 5.2.

According to Cohart, the PFW scale is designed to be a wake-up call of sorts for those Americans who are in “serious debt” and those who have no money to spend on discretionary expenses. “You need to pay attention to how you spend your money,” she said. “You don’t need to buy a cup of coffee or buy lunch every day.”

So, what should you do if you’re in financial distress? Financial expert Heather Wagenhals, host and founder of Unlock Your Wealth Radio Show recommends you track your monthly income and expenses and create a realistic budget to set you up for achievable, measurable financial goals.


Now, we want to hear your thoughts. Please leave your comment or question in the space provided below and share this article with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Your comments or question could be chosen as our featured Money Question Monday and a phone call by financial expert Heather Wagenhals could dial your way to be live on the Unlock Your Wealth Radio Show.


Original article courtesy of




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *