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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Americans' Feelings of Financial Security Are at Pre-Pandemic Levels: Survey

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COUNTRY Financial reports that a survey conducted immediately after the U.S. election found 55% of Americans rated their their financial security positively this year, nearly unchanged from surveys conducted in August and April.

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This is two percentage points higher than the number recorded in October 2019 before the pandemic surged in the U.S. It is also significantly higher than the number in 2016, 46%, and the number in both 2012 and 2008, 44%.

Two in five Americans in the new survey said their financial security was fair or poor.

“There are many reasons Americans could be feeling good about their financial futures right now,” Troy Frerichs, vice president of investment services at COUNTRY Financial, said in a statement. “Savings rates have gone up, we are hearing positive news about a COVID-19 vaccine and the stock market is at an all-time high.”

Ipsos fielded the online survey from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6 among 1,015 U.S. adults, using the KnowledgePanel as the sample source.

Pandemic and the Election

Americans endured a pandemic, a volatile election and natural disasters in 2020, but 40% of respondents said the pandemic has had the greatest effect on their feelings about their finances, followed by 30% who said the election results.

About one in five said neither of these events had affected their feelings about their financial situation.

Asked how much the pandemic has affected their feelings of financial security over the last year, half of respondents say it has not affected them, while a third feel it has had a negative effect.

Thirty-nine percent of millennials and Gen Z respondents in the survey said the pandemic has negatively affected their finances, compared with 24% of baby boomers who said this.

In answer to a similar question about the election results, 36% said the election results had no effect, 28% said it had a negative one and 18% said it had a positive effect.

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Thirty-two percent of boomers reported feeling less confident about their finances after the election, compared with 23% of millennials and Gen Z respondents, and 28% of Gen X respondents.

“It’s not surprising to see the differences in feelings among generations,” Frerichs said. “Millennials are the first generation that is not expected to earn more than their parents did.”

Three in five Americans surveyed said they have no financial regrets at all from 2020. But of the one in three who have financial regrets, 20% said they spent too much on unnecessary purchases and 17% did not put aside enough money for an emergency fund.

Three-quarters of survey participants reported that they have picked up or further developed at least one financial skill during the past year:

  • Cut back unnecessary spending – 48%
  • Paid down debt and made timely debt payments – 30%
  • Regularly put money in savings – 27%
  • Regularly contributing to a 401(k) or other retirement account – 19%
  • Creating a budget – 19%
  • Building an emergency fund – 15%

Looking Forward to 2021

Thirty-eight percent of Americans in the survey believe that their finances will improve in 2021, while 36% believe theirs will stay the same. Only 18% expect their finances to worsen.

As to their top financial goals for 2021, 32% of respondents say they want to control their spending, 29% to save for an emergency fund, 27% to pay down credit card or student loan debt and 24% to save for retirement.

Others have more purchase-oriented goals, including purchasing a car or a home. Twenty-one percent say they did not have financial goals for 2021.

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