Americans have been hopeful about their future finances for a couple of years now, but 2018 could be the year to make their hopes and dreams a reality.
Thirty percent of Americans say they already check their budget every day and 55 percent do several times weekly, says a survey from loan marketplace website LendingTree.
Are Americans doing enough to better their finances?
Sixty-seven percent of Americans say they expect their finances to improve, but how are they going to make that happen? Off the bat, more than half check their budgets weekly, but that may be the only real plan they’ve already put in motion to meet their goals financially in the new year.
Thirty percent say they want to pay down their debt, which is higher than those who want to take control of their finances (26 percent) and those who hope to get a pay raise at their jobs (19 percent).
While paying down debt is the financial goal Americans are most optimistic about, the majority could be missing out on an easier way to achieve that goal. Only 13 percent said they considered debt consolidation, a personal loan used to join more than one debt together in one monthly payment.
Of those who said they were considering debt consolidation, 60 percent didn’t know where to go to pull it off. There are some major benefits to choosing that option to assist with debt repayment by …
- Simplifying their debts to one monthly payment
- Saving money by lowering interest on debts
- Speeding up the process of getting out of debt more efficiently
What’s different about 2018 than the past few years?
Unemployment rates and the stock market both are at, or near, record highs — giving most Americans reasons to feel confident that their finances will improve this year.
In 2015, the Gallup Poll asked Americans how they felt about their finances. Forty-nine percent said they felt “pretty good about the money they have to spend.” That number had gone up only slightly from 47 percent in 2014.
Gallup then released a poll last month revealing the rate of Americans optimistic about finding a quality job is at the highest average it has been in 17 years. More than half (56 percent) of Americans agreed in 2017, which was an increase from 42 percent the year prior.
The unemployment rate has decreased from 4.9 percent in 2016 to 4.4 percent last year, the lowest it’s been since 2000.
Do Americans attribute their optimism to President Trump?
Often Americans attribute their approval of the U.S. president to how confident they are in the economy, according to the Huffington Post.
They ran a poll in August 2017 that said a little over half (52 percent) of Americans feel the economy was “excellent.” More credit their assurance to former President Obama than Trump. Forty percent attributed their confidence in the economy to Obama, while 34 percent feel it’s due to Trump — then of course there were 27 percent who didn’t know who should claim responsibility.
Bloomberg found similar findings in a poll a month before. Fifty-eight percent of Americans felt they were “moving closer to realizing their own career and financial aspirations,” Bloomberg reported on that poll.
It doesn’t matter who Americans are crediting for the improvements in the U.S. economy — most still believe their financial outlook will improve during Trump’s presidency, according to a survey from Experian last year.
Fifty-one percent said they believed their own personal finances would improve over the next four years, 37 percent felt all Americans financial status would improve over the same time period.
With that, many planed to make some lifestyle changes to improve their finances. Forty-three percent wanted to look for a better-paying job and 39 percent said they planned to decrease their spending.
There was a small minority (21 percent) who felt their finances would suffer over the next four years, but even they had a plan to improve their situation in case they’re correct. Sixty-six percent said they would cut back on expenses and 34 percent would pick up an extra job.
Which Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian, feels is a healthy skepticism.
“While it is good to be optimistic about the economy and your personal financial situation, you should always be prepared for changes,” Griffin says.
Griffin continued: “The beginning of the year is a great time to review your finances and budget, check your credit score and credit report, and create a plan to reach your financial goals.”
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