December 13, 2012

Bad Personal Financial Habits Mirror U.S. Government's: Allianz Life Survey

Fiscal cliff and unemployment top list of 2012 economic concerns

While Americans are clamoring for the U.S. government to get its financial house in order (avoiding the looming fiscal cliff and fixing high unemployment), on a personal level they admit to being guilty of their own bad financial habits. The same could probably be said of caloric consumption and obesity rates.

A new survey from Allianz Life finds that when asked about their worst financial habits, nearly a third of respondents (30%) said "not saving any money" and 18% said "spending more than I make," the same type of financial miscues the company claims have put the government's finances in jeopardy.

"Americans want Uncle Sam to address the economic issues that are affecting the country's finances, yet it's troubling that they're guilty of many of the same poor spending and savings habits themselves," Katie Libbe, vice president of Consumer Insights for Allianz Life, said in a statement. "It's our hope that discussion about these topics will prompt more Americans to take action to secure their own financial future."

Unemployment and Fiscal Cliff Concerns

Although unemployment was identified as the most worrisome economic event of 2012, it was actually down four percentage points from 2011 when nearly half of the respondents (48%) said it was their top concern. The 31% of people that said they were most worried about the impending fiscal cliff were eight percentage points higher than those who chose "U.S. budget fiasco" as their biggest worry from last year. Other economic events that respondents identified as "most worrisome" included:

  • Home prices/sales: 11%, down from 15% in 2011
  • Volatile stock market: 9%, down from 10% in 2011
  • European debt crisis: 4%, down from 5 % in 2011

Bad Financial Habits

What were Americans' worst financial habits of 2012? As noted above, 30 percent of Americans surveyed said they are guilty of "not saving any money," but the same percentage indicated they "spend too much money on things I don't need." This was followed by those who admit they:

  • Save some money, but not as much as I could–24%
  • Don't have a household budget–18%
  • Spend more than I make–18%
  • Don't educate myself about financial planning–15%
  • Pay bills late–12%
  • Only make the minimum payment on credit cards–10%
  • Play the lottery/gamble–9%
  • Don't seek professional help with my finances–9%
  • Don't contribute to my employer-sponsored retirement plan–5%

Few respondents (3%) reported that their worst financial habit was "contributing to my employer-sponsored retirement plan, but not taking full advantage of my employer match." Nearly a quarter, 24%, of respondents said they are not guilty of any of the bad habits presented to them.

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