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Americans Looking for Some 'Me Time' in 2012

Americans may want their politicians to focus on the economy and jobs, but a little closer to home they are looking to "have a little fun" and relax in the new year.

Those are the results of a new survey from TD Ameritrade, which finds that Americans want the government to focus on job creation (22 percent), reducing spending (16 percent) and ending the war in Afghanistan (14 percent) in 2012.

Americans' own New Year's resolutions, however, are focused on taking it easy.  Sixty-six percent of those surveyed said their resolution will be to "have more fun" and 65 percent say they want to "relax and reduce stress " in the upcoming year.

With consumers' increased focus on themselves, business owners have an opportunity to capitalize on these resolutions. By focusing on marketing products for personal relaxation and enjoyment, business owners may be able to experience a very happy 2012.

Despite the focus on personal satisfaction, there is also data suggesting people will look to tighten their belts in the upcoming year.  The research showed that a slim majority, 52 percent, of respondents are still uncertain of what 2012 will hold.  As a result, retailers will have to be smart in concentrating on sales in order to attract consumers in the upcoming year. According to the research:

  • 51 percent plan on reducing spending in the next year.
  • 51 percent will focus on saving for financial emergencies like job loss or loss of a spouse.
  • 47 percent also hope to resolve outstanding debts from credit cards, mortgages or educational loans.
  • 30 percent seek to start saving or increase existing savings for retirement.

"It's been a roller coaster year for the economy, and that unpredictability has had an impact on everyone," Stuart Rubinstein, managing director of client engagement at TD Ameritrade, said in a statement. "While making time to relax and de-stress is important, it's good to see that people understand that despite economic uncertainty, it's just as important to keep pursuing your long-term financial goals."

The responses are based on the answers of 1,006 respondents in a telephone interview.