Good economy or bad, Americans are still making financial New Year’s resolutions – and still not keeping them
Debt.com has asked the same questions every year for the past three years – and the majority of survey respondents say the same thing each time.
|Do you have any financial resolutions for this year?||Yes||No|
“Save more money” has been Americans’ favorite financial resolution every year with the exception of 2018 – when the most selected response was to “pay off my credit card debt.”
|What’s your financial resolution?||2020||2019||2018|
|Pay off my credit card debt||61.51%||58.35%||70.46%|
|Save more money||67.08%||65.74%||66.70%|
|Spend less to keep a balanced budget||44.99%||45.97%||47.49%|
|Stop using credit cards||23.39%||24.67%||30.89%|
|Buy a car||14.24%||16.18%||12.16%|
|Pay off student loans||16.51%||12.23%||12.45%|
|Buy a home||14.76%||13.54%||11.87%|
It’s not surprising that Americans wanted to pay down their credit card debt most in 2018. That year, Debt.com had the most replies to “running up/maxing out my credit card balances” as the biggest financial regret from the prior year.
|What’s your biggest financial regret from the last year?||2020||2019||2018|
|Running up/maxing out my credit card balances||35.12%||30.66%||44.43%|
|I don’t have any financial regrets||26.00%||30.02%||22.85%|
|Missing payments and damaging my credit score||23.16%||23.31%||23%|
|Letting a debt go into collections||17.79%||19.17%||18.56%|
|Draining all the money from my savings account||18.56%||17.42%||17.53%|
|Making a big purchase on a credit card because it didn’t fit my budget||11.43%||10.61%||13.48%|
|Using money out of my 401(k) or IRA||6.98%||7.45%||7.49%|
|Going overboard on a vacation because it cost too much||5.06%||4.04%||4.79%|
Each year, the majority of survey respondents tell us they didn’t have a New Year’s resolution related to debt, money or credit in the past.
|In years past have you made New Year’s resolutions related to debt, money or your credit?||Yes||No|
And most respondents probably don’t make financial resolutions, because most don’t think they work.
|Why don’t you make financial resolution?||2020||2019||2018|
|I never make resolutions because I don’t think they work||51.03%||53.16%||49.60%|
|My finances are so bad that I can’t figure out where to start||25.44%||22.74%||25.94%|
|I have bigger fish to fry in my life right now||16.55%||17.05%||19.79%|
|My finances are perfect, so I don’t need financial resolutions||6.98%||7.05%||4.68%|
And it looks like financial New Year’s resolutions don’t work for most Americans. Consistently for three years straight, the majority of our survey respondents have told us that they didn’t reach their goals.
|Did you keep them and reach your goal?||Yes||No|
For those who do achieve their financial resolutions, it takes most survey respondents a full year to get it done.
|How long did it take you to achieve your resolution?||2020||2019||2018|
|I worked the whole year to keep my resolution||46.91%||38.19%||42.92%|
|It took more than that year, but I finally reached my goal||30.45%||35.92%||31.60%|
|It took me about half a year||14.40%||16.83%||17.92%|
|I knocked it out within just a few months||8.23%||9.06%||7.55%|
Conversely, it took those who stopped working on their financial New Year’s resolutions a full year before throwing in the towel. So they definitely gave it a try before saying making a resolution just doesn’t work for them.
|How long was it before you stopped working on the resolution?||2020||2019||2018|
|I worked all year, but couldn’t make it happen||35.29%||38.41%||42.39%|
|I kept it up for a months, but then I got busy/distracted||32.51%||32.36%||29.62%|
|I made the resolution, but never made a plan to make it happen||21.67%||19.62%||19.29%|
|I started working, but forgot about it in less than a month||10.53%||9.60%||8.70%|
Methodology: Debt.com surveyed 1,326 people and asked ten questions related to personal finance and the New Year to understand consumer behavior around their money resolutions. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. The survey was conducted from Dec. 27, 2019 to Jan. 12, 2020. *In 2019 Debt.com surveyed 2,100 people using the same type of consumer-focused questions regarding personal finance New Year resolutions utilizing SurveyMoney. And in 2018 Debt.com surveyed 1,349 people with the same survey tool.