More than three-quarters of Americans feel that their financial picture is getting better or is at least stable, according to newly released data from the Chase Blueprint Pulse of the Consumer Survey.
The survey asked 1,208 adults about their financial outlook in early March. Overall, 76% of those surveyed said that their personal finances were stable or improving, an increase of 11% from last year’s survey.
When asked whether their personal finances were on the upswing after bottoming out during the recession, 45% said that they were. Last year, only 31% of respondents said their finances were in recovery mode.
When it comes to the national economy, 61% think our economy is past the worst and is either stable or improving. People feel even better about their local economies: 67% said the economic outlook in their surrounding areas was holding steady or getting better.
Spending and saving wisely as finances rebound
An optimistic financial outlook means people are ready to start spending again, especially if they’ve been in penny-pinching mode for a while. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondent said they are currently spending as much or more than they were before the recession hit. Over the past year, the top spending categories were restaurants (33%), vacations (20%) and clothing (17%).
People aren’t just spending. Almost half (45%) of folks that took part said they have increased the amount they are saving – an increase of 9% over last year. But 51% say the recession has not motivated them to bulk up their savings accounts.
Chase Blueprint, a program for Chase cardholders designed to help them take control of their finances and spend wisely, has added a knowledge center to its site. This online resource will offer consumers access to a variety of studies, the first of which is called, Born to Spend? by behavioral economist Dr. Hersh Shefrin. The study examines how nature and nurture play into consumer spending habits.
Dr. Shefrin recommends three strategies consumers can use to keep their financial outlook bright:
- Utilize budgeting programs that help with setting goals, tracking expenses, finding the right credit card for your needs, and paying down debt.
- Take advantage of technology and use personal finance tools that collect data to help identify spending patterns.
- Make money management fun for kids by playing games that teach them about mindful spending.