The New Year is creeping up on us.
In just a few weeks we will be leaving 2017 behind for a brand new 2018. At the end of each year we as humans like to look back and evaluate our life choices. Here at LendEDU we are looking back at an eventful 2017 and are in the process of planning out our 2018 goals.
You might have remembered that around this time last year, LendEDU released the results from a survey that looked into the financial goals of 1,001 Americans heading into 2017.
On this page:
This year, we ran nearly the same survey to compare and contrast how people were financially forecasting for 2018 as opposed to 2017.
Earlier this month, we commissioned a survey of 1,000 Americans who are setting financial resolutions for 2018.
Read on to find out what we discovered.
Full Results From LendEDU’s 2018 Financial Resolutions Survey (2017 Results Parenthesized in Blue)
1. Which of the following do you consider your most important financial resolution in 2018? (2017 results in parenthesis in blue)
- Save more money – 52.20% (52.85%)
- Pay off debt – 37.50% (35.56%)
- Spend less money – 10.30% (11.59%)
2. Specifically, which of the following do you consider your top financialresolution for 2018?
- Make & stick to a Budget – 29.50% (21.38%)
- Save for a large purchase such as a downpayment, household upgrade, or car, etc. – 25.20% (19.28%)
- Pay down credit card debt – 19.90% (18.88%)
- Place money aside for an emergency fund – 15.50% (16.58%)
- Save for retirement – 5.00% (13.69%)
- Pay down student loan debt – 4.00% (7.29%)
- Save for college – 0.90% (2.90%)
3. What is your top financial concern going into 2018?
- Unexpected expenses – 62.70% (53.25%)
- Healthcare costs – 22.20% (23.98%)
- Higher interest rates – 5.40% (9.69%)
- The labor market – 4.40% (7.79%)
- Stock market fluctuations – 2.70% (5.29%)
- Virtual currencies – 2.60% (N/A)
4. Do you believe that you will be better off financially in 2018, compared to 2017?
- Yes – 82.50% (78.32%)
- No – 17.50% (21.68%)
5. Did you set a financial resolution for 2017?
- Yes – 28.60% (41.26%)
- No – 71.40% (58.74%)
6. Did you meet or exceed your financial resolution in 2017? Note: we only asked this question to individuals reporting that they did set a financial resolution for 2017.
- Yes, I met or exceeded my goal – 44.76% (57.59%)
- No, I did not meet my goal – 55.24% (42.41%)
7. Do you feel more financially secure today than you did a year ago?
- Yes, I feel more secure – 63.50% (64.64%)
- No, I feel less secure – 36.50% (35.36%)
8. Do you make financial resolutions with your spouse or significant other? Note: we only asked this question to individuals reporting that they did have a spouse or significant other.
- Yes – 84.02% (84.83%)
- No – 15.98% (15.17%)
9. What would make you stick to your financial resolution?
- Having a reward for reaching the goal – 30.80% (37.56%)
- Segmenting a longer term goal into smaller bit sized pieces – 25.10% (20.08%)
- Technology that helps you save money or monitor goals in real-time – 13.60% (19.38%)
- The encouragement of family and friends – 20.00% (13.99%)
- Having a consequence for not reaching the goal – 10.50% (8.99%)
10. Do you feel comfortable talking about your financial resolution with friends and family?
- Yes – 67.70% (68.13%)
- No – 32.30% (31.87%)
11. Do you think rising interest rates will be positive or negative for your financial situation?
- Positive impact – 20.90% (24.48%)
- Negative – 43.60% (52.35%)
- No opinion or impact – 35.50% (23.18%)
12. Do you think that you will increase your contributions to your retirement savings this year?
- Yes – 53.80% (63.24%)
- No – 46.20% (36.76%)
13. Do you plan on refinancing debt (mortgage, student loans, credit cards) within the next year?
- Yes – 28.90% (36.06%)
- No – 71.10% (63.94%)
14. Are you in less debt this year (2017), vs. last year (2016)?
- Yes – 54.50% (64.04%)
- No – 45.50% (35.96%)
15. Do you wish you learned more about personal finance in high school and/or college?
- Yes, I didn’t learn enough – 71.70% (71.43%)
- No, I was taught the right amount – 28.30% (28.57%)
16. Do you currently use technology, a website or application, to help you monitor and manage your finances?
- Yes – 46.00% (58.34%)
- No – 54.00% (41.66%)
17. Do you plan on downloading one of the many robo-investment apps (Betterment, WealthFront, etc) to help grow your money in 2018?
- Yes – 16.30% (N/A)
- No – 37.10% (N/A)
- Unsure – 46.60% (N/A)
18. Will you get involved with Bitcoin or another virtual currency in 2018?
- Yes – 12.30% (N/A)
- No – 39.30% (N/A)
- Unsure – 44.80% (N/A)
- Not applicable, already involved with virtual currency – 3.60% (N/A)
Observations & Analysis
More Debt But Less Refinancing & Less Retirement Contributions Expected for 2018
At 2017’s end, Americans will have more debt than they did in 2016, according to our poll. This year’s poll showed that only 54.50 percent of respondents will have less debt than they did the previous year. In comparison, last year’s poll uncovered that 64.04 percent of Americans would have less debt at the end of 2016 than they did in 2015.
One would think that more debt would lead to more refinancing of said debt, right? According to this year’s results, only 28.90 percent of respondents anticipate refinancing any type of debt in 2018, compared to 36.06 percent from last year.
One trend that did make sense was that less poll participants anticipate increasing their retirement contributions in 2018. Only 53.80 percent stated they would raise their retirement investment, while 63.24 percent said they would last year. Since respondents have taken on more debt this year, it is logical that they are not raising their retirement contributions.
Less Americans Set Financial Resolutions in 2017, Even Less Actually Completed Their Resolutions
Based of the results from the same poll LendEDU conducted last year, 41.26 percent of Americans had set a financial resolution for 2016. In 2017, only 28.60 percent of consumers set a financial resolution.
It gets even worse for 2017.
Out of those that did set a financial resolution in 2016, 57.59 percent met or exceeded their goal. In comparison, only 44.76 percent of respondents that set a financial resolution in 2017 met or exceeded their goal.
Year-over-year, Americans are making less financial resolutions and those that do are not even meeting their goals. How has this impacted their finances?
Less Americans Feel Financially Secure, But 2018 Ushers in Optimism
Compared to last year’s results, when 64.64 percent of Americans felt more financially secure than they did a year ago, only 63.50 percent felt the same way at the end of this year. The difference is minimal, but the result corresponds with the rest of the year-over-year statistics in this poll, such as people having more debt and less hitting their financial goals.
Despite this overall downward trend, financial optimism is abound for 2018. 82.50 percent of Americans believe they will be better off financially in 2018 as compared to 2017. That is a jump of more than five percent from last year’s poll, when 78.32 percent of respondents thought 2017 would bring them better financial fortune than 2016 did.
In 2018, Less Americans Concerned With Interest Rates, Jobs, and the Market; Virtual Currency On the Radar
Looking ahead to 2018, Americans are most concerned with unexpected expenses, which was the top financial worry for 62.70 percent of our respondents. Last year, 53.25 percent of poll participants shared this sentiment.
However, American consumers are less concerned with many financial topics heading into 2018. In 2017, 9.69 percent of people pointed to higher interest rates as their top concern; this year, only 5.40 percent answered the same way. When it comes to find a job, only 4.40 percent of respondents designated the labor market as their top financial concern compared to 7.79 percent that stated the same a year ago.
In a time when the stock market is seemingly more volatile then ever before, less Americans are concerned with fluctuations on Wall Street. Only 2.70 percent expressed this as their top concern, while that percentage was 5.29 percent last year.
Earning a spot on this year’s list were virtual currencies, which have become the top financial priority for 2.60 percent of Americans heading into 2018.
>> Read More: How to invest in Bitcoin
Surprisingly, Financial Management Technology Usage Down
In one of the more surprising results from this poll, less people are using some sort of financial management technology as compared to last year. Last year, 58.34 percent of respondents said they were using some piece of technology to help manage their finances. This year, that percentage dropped to 46.00 percent.
During a time when technology is seemingly being used for everything and replacing human brainpower, less people are turning to automation to help juggle their finances. Perhaps last year represented the high water mark for personal finance software, or perhaps this year’s results represented an outlier. Either way, it will be interesting to see how the results come in next year.
All data in this report came from an online poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by online polling company Pollfish. In total, 1,000 Americans ages 18 and up were polled on either 18 or 19 questions depending on how they answered. Respondents were filtered via screener question to ensure that they were planning to make a financial resolution in 2018. The responses for this poll were gathered over a three day span, starting on November 28th, 2017 and ending on November 30th, 2017. Respondents were asked to answer each question truthfully and to the best of their ability.