Personal Outlook For The Year Ahead

According to a December Harris Poll, the pessimistic outlook that the economy will get worse (32%) slightly overshadows the belief that it will improve (27%), though the most prevalent opinion is that 42% of respondents say that the economy will stay the same.

 

Expectations For The Economy In The Coming Year (Base: All adults; Rounded)

 

 

 Expectation

 

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen. Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

Improve

27%

23%

27%

29%

27%

30%

24%

Stay the same

42

49

45

36

33

39

44

Get worse

32

28

28

34

40

31

33

Source: Harris Poll, December 2013

It is noteworthy that Americans are more likely than last year to believe the economy will stay the same (up 11 percentage points from December 2012), while drops are apparent both for the belief that the economy will improve (down 6 points) and that it will get worse (down 4 points), says the report.

Americans show deep divisions on this issue by political party, with Democrats nearly four times as likely as Republicans to believe that the economy will improve (46% Democrats, 12% Republicans); and the inverse true for the perception that it will get worse (47% Republicans, 13% Democrats). 41% of both parties, as well as Independents, are equally likely to ascribe to the belief that it will stay the same.

Americans were asked about their financial plans for the year ahead, as well as what they planned on doing in 2013, and whether or not they followed through on such plans.

Americans report a solid follow-through ratio for 2013 financial plans, and plans showing the best follow-through rates include:

  • "Cut back on my household spending" (49% planned and followed through vs. 15% planned but did not)
  • "Pay down my level of debt" (41% and 15%, respectively)
  • "Undertake home improvements that increase the value of my home" (22% and 10%, respectively)
  • "Get rid of one of my credit cards" (19% and 8%, respectively)

45% of nearly half of Americans say they expect to cut back on household spending in 2014, while 40% plan on paying down their level of debt and saving more. 23% plan on saving more for retirement and 15% each plan on getting rid of one or more credit cards and undertaking home improvements that increase the value of their home.

2014 Financial Expectations Base: All adults

 

 

 Expectation

 

 

Total

Intended in 2013 but didn't follow through

Generation

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen. X (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Cut back on my household spending

45%

61%

47%

42%

48%

35%

Pay down my level of debt

40

68

43

41

43

23

Save more in the year ahead

40

51

55

38

36

21

Save more for retirement

23

36

26

30

23

2

Get rid of one or more credit cards

15

53

16

16

15

11

Undertake home improvements that increase the value of my home

15

39

17

12

16

12

Source: Harris Poll, December 2013

Financial plans for the coming year are similar to those seen a year ago, though there has been slight growth in planned saving, with stated intentions to save more in general and save more for retirement both up three percentage points.

Americans who tried and failed to make financial changes in 2013 appear to be doubling down. Those who intended a change in 2013, but didn't follow through, are more likely than the general population to say they expect to make such a change in 2014:

  • "Cut back on my household spending" (45% of Americans plan on doing so overall; 61% of those who intended to do so in 2013 but didn't follow through intend to do so)
  • "Pay down my level of debt" (40% and 68%, respectively)
  • "Save more in the year ahead" (40%, and 51%, respectively)
  • "Save more for retirement" (23% and 36%, respectively)
  • "Get rid of one or more credit cards" (15% and 53%, respectively)
  • "Undertake home improvements that increase the value of my home" (15% and 39%, respectively)

 For additional information from Harris Interactive, please visit here.

 

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