Each new year brings a renewed sense of purpose to many people, and resolutions for the new year are common—especially in the area of finance. In 2018, hoping to understand those financial resolutions and see how people are forecasting their finances, LendEDU commissioned a survey of 1,000 Americans who are making resolutions about their money. The survey was nearly identical to one done in 2017, and the answers are consistently the same.
In the New Year, Americans Want to Focus on Saving Money
The survey’s first question asked what respondents considered their most important financial resolution in 2018. Just like the year before, answers focused on saving money. While 35.56% of respondents wanted to pay off their debt, over half of the survey participants said they wanted to save more money. The flip side of that—spending less—only came in at just under 12%, showing that people aren’t looking so much at their spending but hope to save more in the year ahead.
Related to that was their specific plan for doing so; almost 30% said they resolved to create and stick to a budget in 2018—up from 21.38% in 2017. Other answers, such as putting money aside for an emergency fund or even saving for retirement, came in far lower; budgets were by far more important to respondents than anything else.
Those Unexpected Expenses Are Scaring Consumers the Most
Americans answering the LendEDU survey overwhelmingly said that unexpected expenses were their biggest financial concern—even more than healthcare costs or fluctuations in the stock market. Car repairs, home appliances that suddenly need replacing, and other unexpected expenses can add up quickly, and in both 2017 and 2018, consumers saw those expenses as their biggest worry, with 62.70% of people giving that as their answer. The job market and higher interest rates, typically something consumers also worried about in previous years, didn’t even have 10% of answers this year.
What Are the Best Ways to Stick to a Financial Resolution?
Humans, as a rule, are notorious for being unable to stick to their New Year’s resolutions, but LendEDU also asked participants what would make them follow through on their financial resolutions for the year. Results offered a wide range of great ideas for staying in the race.
Having a reward for reaching their goal was the top answer at 30.80%; for those who are saving for a large goal such as a purchase or vacation, the reward is being able to do what they’re saving for. For others, taking a large goal and splitting it into more manageable chunks can help keep them motivated; instead of having “pay off debt” as their goal, they might look at paying off the credit card with the lowest balance or highest interest rate.
Still, others said that apps and programs that can help them see their progress in real time helped them stay on track, as well as encouragement from their family and friends. A few even said that having consequences for not making their goal kept them focused. While the methods that people choose to keep themselves on track might vary, the important part is that they are staying in the race and working toward those financial resolutions.
Popular Financial Resolutions Heading into 2019