The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor results for May show that although people’s view of the economy is improving slightly, that optimism doesn’t translate to their personal finances.
Discover takes of daily poll of about 8,200 consumers, tracking their feelings toward the economy, their spending outlook, and their personal financial picture. Each month they release these findings in their Spending Monitor.
In May, 19% of total respondents rated the economy as good or excellent, up two percentage points from April. This small surge of positivity was fueled by women, as the percentage of women who felt the economy was looking good increased by four points to 19%, compared with men, whose good and excellent responses remained flat at 20%.
Not surprisingly, people who take home a bigger paycheck tend to feel better about the economy. Respondents who make more than $75,000 a year showed a 5% increase in rating the economy as good or excellent (to 30%), while workers making less than $40,000 had only a 2% increase on that answer (for a total of 16%).
When asked if the economy was on its way to brighter days, 32% of people said yes, it is improving—not much of a change from April’s 31% who were optimistic about the future.
Economy vs. personal outlook
When it came to their personal finances, however, the story was a little different.
The number of people rating their own finances as good or excellent dipped by 2%, to 33%. And as to whether they see their financial picture improving, the number of glass-half-full respondents crept downward by 1%, to 25%.
When asked if they anticipate having money left over after their bills were paid in May, only 45% of respondents thought they would. In April, 48% said they would have some discretionary funds left after paying bills.
As with the economy, women seemed to have a brighter outlook than men about their personal bottom lines. The number of men who said their finances were improving declined by 3%, to 25%. Twenty-five percent of women also answered that their finances were improving, but last month only 24% of women said that, representing a small increase in May’s optimism.
When asked about how they planned to spend money in May, the amount people planned to spend stayed about the same, but the things they planned to spend it on saw some small shifts. Discretionary income was more likely to be spent on vacations (15% up 1% from last month), and fun outings like dinner and a movie (11%, up 2% from last month). A few more people hoped to save or invest money, too—10% said they planned to do this, compared with 9% last month.
Spending on home improvement projects was projected to be the same in May as in April, with 17% of respondents planning to spend some money on spring projects around the house or yard.