Thirty-seven percent of Americans are considering making a financial resolution in 2016, up from 31% in 2015, according to a study released Wednesday by Fidelity Investments, and most of those who made such resolutions last year are in better financial shape today.
Fidelity said this increase suggested that after the recent bout of market volatility, Americans may have set aside the complacency they felt about their finances last year.
“While the market volatility of August may be out of sight, it’s not out of mind,” Fidelity’s senior vice president of retirement Ken Hevert said in a statement. “Periods of economic uncertainty tend to be a reminder about why having a financial plan — and sticking to it — is important.”
Fifty-four percent of Americans in the study resolved to save more in the new year, 19% to spend less and 16% to pay off debt.
Another top resolution was paying down credit card debt, which reached an all-time high of 11% in the annual study, compared with just 5% last year.
For those whose top priority was saving, 63% said they preferred to set aside money for long-term goals — such as college, retirement and health care — up from 57% in 2014.
Of the 32% saving for short-term goals, 60% said they would use their savings to build up an emergency fund, up from 52% in 2014.
Among all respondents, 48% said they would increase their annual retirement savings contribution by 1% or more in 2016.
The study found three main concerns worrying Americans as they looked forward to the year ahead.
Sixty-two percent of respondents cited unexpected expenses as their main concern, followed by 53% who were worried about the economy and 47% about health care costs in retirement.
Despite these concerns, 72% of respondents said they expected to be better off financially in 2016 than in 2015. Eighty-seven percent of Gen Y expressed confidence in a better 2016, followed by 77% of Gen X, 65% of boomers and 44% of seniors.
Moreover, 36% of all respondents said they would be carrying less debt going into 2016.