The current crop of New Year’s resolutions strongly indicates that finances remain top of mind for Americans, who have? mixed feelings about their own financial future as well as the country’s, according to three recent surveys about 2010 new year’s resolutions and expectations for coming year.?
The first survey, commissioned by FranklinCovey Products, found that respondents’ top three New Year’s resolutions for 2010 were similar to those in 2009: (1) improve financial situation, (2) lose weight, and (3) develop a healthy habit like exercise or healthy eating. The top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2010 were ranked as follows, as compared with last year:
Respondents in the fifth annual FranklinCovey survey – which polled more than 1,000 US adults -? also were asked to rank the following statements for 2010:
- My life will improve overall (57%)
- My life will be about the same (36%)
- My life will be worse than this past year (7%)
In terms of differences by age group, the survey found that those ages 18-29 are more optimistic than the population, those ages 60+ are more “pragmatic” and those ages 40-49 are “on the fence.”
This year’s survey also showed that the use of resolutions, either unwritten or written, is highest among younger adults. Some 61%? of respondents ages 18-29 take time to review their resolutions for the next year, vs. only 36% of those ages 60+.
In what FranklinCovey suggests is a possible indication of the recession’s impact on Americans’ concept of saving, just more than 44% of survey respondents ranked “saving for the future” as their topmost resolution specific to finances. “Eliminating debt” came in second as ranked by 40% of respondents, and “Seeking additional sources of income” was third at 38%.
Despite these well-intended New Year’s resolutions, the FranklinCovey survey found that a “lack of commitment” was cited by 3% of respondents as the primary reason their resolution won’t be reached. “Having too many other things to do” was noted by 22% of respondents followed by “forgetfulness” at 18%.
Top Resolutions for US
A second survey, commissioned by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz) and conducted by Synovate, asked 1,000 consumers in the US about what the country’s New Year’s resolution should be for 2010. Not surprisingly, survey respondents indicated that financial issues are top of mind:
- 52.6% said the US should resolve to create jobs/reduce unemployment.
- 32.4% want the country to fix its finances.
- 10.6% say it should solve healthcare issues.
- 4.4% say it should mend strained relations around the world.
When asked whether financial planning was part of their own personal New Year’s resolutions:
- 33.6% say “I don’t have enough money to worry about it.”
- 33.2% say they are including financial planning in their 2010 resolutions.
- 23.3%? say they already have a solid financial plan.
Diet and Exercise vs. Fiscal Fitness
When asked what type of expert professional service they would most like to use, 40.7% in the Allianz survey chose a financial expert compared with only 27.3% who say they want a personal trainer. Financial guidance was of particular importance to the youngest and oldest generations surveyed, with 43.4% of the 18-24 age group choosing financial expert, and 42.4% of those ages 65+.
Conversely however, when asked what resolution for 2010 they are most likely to keep, more people (40.2%) say diet and exercise, vs. managing their money better (38.7%).
“Feelings about the future are mixed, but people fundamentally agree that the nation and its citizens must focus on rebuilding a strong financial future,” said Nancy Jones, CMO of Allianz Life. “The survey also shows a lack of confidence in exactly how to manage finances well.”
Third Study Confirms Findings
A third study of 1,000 US adults commissioned by another financial firm appears to strongly echo these findings. As America headed into the holiday season, consumers displayed optimism tempered by realism after two years of recession and volatile financial markets, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers released by Putnam Investments and conducted by Insight Express.
The Putnam survey found that most consumers surveyed expect improvements in the economy and their personal finances, but are planning to rein in holiday spending this year and step up saving next year.
As with the previous two surveys, the Putnam survey similarly found that as the year ends, pocketbook issues dominate Americans’ thoughts. When asked what would they would most like to see happen in 2010, nearly a third (32%) said “job growth,” while 18% said “US economic growth.” Just one in seven (14%) said passage of a healthcare reform bill, the issue which has consumed Washington for much of this year.
Showing some skepticism about the effects of government action, fewer than two in five Americans (38%) expect that consumers will finally see the benefits of the economic stimulus package in 2010.
In terms of personal resolutions, Americans in the Putnam study are similarly focused more on their financial health than on their physical health, with “saving more” the number-one New Year’s resolution for 2010, cited by 36%, the survey found.? Old standbys such as “exercise more” (34%) and “lose weight” (34%) trail behind.
Overall, survey respondents appear to be more optimistic about their personal situations, with more than half (52%) saying they are more hopeful about their own financial health going into 2010 than they were last year, Putnam said.