This week's debt report

This week’s Debt Report

Nothing like a recession to scare Americans straight about money. Here’s the latest research that shows we’re emerging from tough economic times with more brains than we had going in…

This week's debt report


Fewer Americans plan to go into debt for “memorable life experiences” like weddings and major vacations, says a study from SunTrust. “An overwhelming majority of consumers – 73 percent – will plan to use savings to pay for memorable life events they have planned in 2014, versus 21 percent who plan to use credit cards, and 12 percent who plan to use a loan.”

Those who use their savings have devised a neat trick: “Nearly 30 percent will use a separate account, or savings bucket, to help them compartmentalize money and save.”


Americans aren’t spending as much on brand names, at least when it comes to food. And that means big savings.

More than 4,000 shoppers took part in a project called the American Pantry Study, which revealed…

  • “Nearly 9 in 10 (88 percent) respondents say they have found several store brands that are just as good as national brands.”
  • “Seven in 10 shoppers (71 percent) say they’re spending less on food, beverage and household goods, but don’t feel like they’re sacrificing much.”
  • “Only 31 percent of brands are considered a ‘must have’ — one that shoppers would buy whether on sale or not.”

Health expenses

Health savings accounts have only been around since 2003, and many people still don’t know how they work — and can work for them. If you have a high-deductible health plan, HSAs can help. They’re a great way to set aside money tax-free for health expenses.

“There were 10.7 million HSAs in the United States at the end of 2013, an increase of 30 percent over the prior year,” Fidelity Investments reported this month. Fidelity’s VP Will Applegate was pleased: “We believe one of the best ways for people to prepare for the escalating costs of health care in retirement is, if eligible, open a health savings account, as young as possible, to make the most of possible long-term investment gains and tax-advantaged growth.”


During the worst of the economic downturn, many of us feared for our jobs. No longer: “Americans are less patient employees, with a third (34 percent) saying they would prefer to move on rather than wait if their employer doesn’t offer progression within an acceptable timeframe,” says a new YouGov survey.

Even better, those employees aren’t just sitting around and wishing for a better life: “79 percent of American workers say they are constantly seeking out opportunities to learn new things and develop their skills.”


Americans know their personal information isn’t staying personal when they shop online. But increasingly, they’re demanding perks.

“Despite controversy over information-sharing, shoppers want to provide information for a reward,” a survey from PriceGrabber reveals. “Between both in-store and online scenarios, on average 34 percent of all shoppers preferred 50 percent coupons, compared to 25 percent who preferred $50-off gift cards.”

Tellingly, this survey was conducted for retailers, not for customers — in other words, you’re not supposed to know this. So it’s encouraging that Amy Chen, a PriceGrabber strategist, concludes, “To obtain customers’ personal information that can be used to target them better in-store and online, retailers should ease their minds by providing them with a high incentive, more autonomy over their personal information, and more clarity on how information-sharing works.”


First, the good news: “Workers are increasingly recognizing the importance of retirement income,” says a new study from MetLife.

The bad: “Many are not yet in a position to take action to ensure their financial security.”

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