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Most Americans Expect Their Finances to Be Same or Worse in 2020: Survey

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Forty-three percent of U.S. adults in a new survey say they expect improvement in their personal financial situation this year, and 15% of these expect a significant improvement.

However, 57% of respondents do not look forward to a better financial situation in 2020, including 16% who expect their finances to be worse, according to the survey results, released Thursday by Bankrate.com.

YouGov Plc conducted the survey for Bankrate.com in early December among 2,634 adults.

Younger survey respondents appeared to be much more hopeful about their finances in the coming year, with 56% of millennials and 44% of Gen Xers predicting improvement, but only 31% of baby boomers sharing their optimism.

“The optimism, or lack of pessimism, Americans have regarding the outlook for their finances in 2020 is consistent with ongoing economic expansion and low unemployment,” Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst Greg McBride said in a statement.

But Bankrate noted that even though the economy looks good at present, a few signs indicate some weakening. It noted that December’s wage gains came in below 3% for the first time since July 2018. In addition, economists polled in December said they expected unemployment to edge up slightly in 2020.

The Year Ahead

Forty-nine percent of survey participants who expected an improved financial situation in 2020 said they were making more money at work, and 42% said they expected to have less debt.

Millennials and Gen Xers were likeliest to cite making more money at work, while baby boomers looked forward to having less debt.

Optimistic Americans mentioned other reasons they would fare better financially in 2020:

  • Making more money from savings or investments: 28%
  • A change in life circumstances, such as health or family: 27%
  • Benefiting from the work done by political leaders in Washington: 14%
  • Changing interest rates: 8%

Among the 16% of American adults who expected their personal finances to be worse in 2020, 44% blamed the work done by political leaders in Washington.

Thirty-three percent cited a change in life circumstances, 30% having more debt, 28% making less money at work and 21% making less money from savings or investments.

“Improving your finances in 2020 revolves around the fundamental blocking and tackling of personal finance — budgeting, saving and paying down debt — and Americans know it, commonly citing these as their top financial goal,” McBride said.

Eighty-three percent of survey respondents said they had at least one financial goal for the coming year. The most-mentioned one among all age and income groups was paying down debt — though this response was notably highest for households with income of $80,000 or more.

Better budgeting was the second most cited goal for 2020, followed by saving more for emergencies, getting a higher paying job, saving more for retirement, investing more money and buying a new home.

— Check out The Importance of 3 Sources of Retirement Income: Study on ThinkAdvisor.