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New Year Financial Resolutions Reach All-Time High, Up 31 Percent Since Annual Study Began in 2009
Many Holiday Shoppers to Cut Spending Budgets by One Quarter – Shifting From Spending to Saving, According to Fidelity® StudyBOSTON – In its fourth annual New Year Financial Resolutions Study, Fidelity Investments® finds a record number of consumers (46 percent) are considering financial resolutions – a number that has increased 31 percent since the tracking study started in 2009. Commitments to keep financial resolutions also increased to an all-time high, with 62 percent of consumers saying they stuck with their resolutions in the past – up from a low of 58 percent in 2010.
For the second consecutive year, the top three New Year financial resolutions continue to be saving more (52 percent), spending less (19 percent) and paying off debt (19 percent). Of those who say saving more is their top priority, the median annual target is $2,400 for long- and short-term goals, the same as last year and double the amount for 2010. This continued focus on saving may be fueled by the fact that more consumers say they are in a worse financial situation (26 percent) and more in debt (17 percent) today versus the same time last year.
“It’s encouraging that many Americans continue to recognize the importance of taking control over their own personal economy and are using the start of a New Year to reboot or maintain their focus on long-term savings,” said Ken Hevert, vice president, Fidelity Investments. “Fulfilling financial resolutions may take a few tries before getting into a groove, but can provide greater peace of mind down the road when savings are needed for important life events, such as retirement or a child entering college.”
Holiday Shopping Budgets Decrease in 2012: Focus Shifts from Spending to Saving
For the first time, the study also inquired about holiday spending habits and found the increased focus on saving could impact shopping budgets. In fact, more than one-third (37 percent) of consumers say they plan to spend less this holiday season when compared to last year. Additionally, these respondents say they are going to cut their 2012 holiday spending budget by 25 percent from 2011 levels – from a median of $800 to $600.
This reduction in holiday spending is being redirected to several areas within households. The top three areas cited by consumers include paying down debt (55 percent), saving it (54 percent) and spending on everyday expenses (53 percent).
Trend of Saving for Long-Term Goals Continues to Rise, Retirement Leads List
The majority of respondents (65 percent) continue to say they are saving for long-term goals, versus those saving for short-term goals (29 percent), based on a year-over-year analysis. The top long-term goal identified was saving more for retirement in a tax-advantaged/tax deferred account (48 percent), such as an individual retirement account (IRA) or workplace savings plan, followed by saving for college (46 percent) and retiree health care costs (34 percent).
While long-term savings goals continue to be stable, short-term savings goals often shift year-over-year. For example, saving for a big ticket item like a television or computer jumped from 18 percent to 32 percent, and saving for a home purchase dropped from 32 percent to 20 percent. Other financial goals that continue to be a consistent focus include building an emergency fund (67 percent) and paying down credit card debt (43 percent).
Keeping Resolutions Can be Tough, but Many Achieve Success
As more consumers consider New Year financial resolutions, there is also more acknowledgement that keeping them is harder than other popular resolutions, such as exercising more, quitting smoking or finding a new job. In fact, 38 percent of respondents say keeping financial resolutions is harder than keeping non-financial resolutions (up from 30 percent in 2009).
Despite this, respondents are making progress in reaching their resolution goals. Interestingly, almost half (46 percent) say they achieved more than 80 percent of their financial resolutions for 2012.
Fidelity Offers Guidance for Those Considering Financial Resolutions
To help investors who are considering a financial resolution this year, Fidelity published a new Viewpoints article today titled “Keep your resolutions in 2013.” The article provides a month-by-month guide for 2013 that can help investors get their finances in order, and includes tips on saving more, budgeting and the importance of an appropriate asset allocation across your portfolio.
“Given the economic pressures facing investors today, there is a greater importance on adding structure to one’s personal finances and setting goals for the coming year,” said Hevert. “Regardless of the goal, it’s important to focus on areas that you have the power to change, rather than allowing yourself to become de-railed by factors that may be out of our control.”
Investors considering a financial resolution can discuss long- and short-term savings strategies with a Fidelity investment professional at one of the firm’s 179 Investor Centers nationwide, by phone at 1-800-FIDELITY or via Instant Message on www.fidelity.com.
For more information on the New Year Financial Resolutions Study, an executive summary can be found on Fidelity.com.
About the study
This report presents the findings of a telephone survey (660 interviews were from the landline sample and 352 interviews from the cellular phone sample) conducted among two national probability samples. The samples, when combined, consist of 1,012 adults, 470 men and 542 women 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this CARAVAN® Survey was completed on November 9-13, 2012 by ORC International, which is not affiliated with Fidelity Investments. The results of this survey may not be representative of all adults meeting the same criteria as those surveyed for this study.
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity Investments is one of the world’s largest providers of financial services, with assets under administration of $3.8 trillion, including managed assets of $1.6 trillion, as of October 31, 2012. Founded in 1946, the firm is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing and many other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals and institutions, as well as through 5,000 financial intermediary firms. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit www.fidelity.com.
Fidelity Investments and Fidelity are registered service marks of FMR LLC.