Consumers will be focusing more on their finances in 2013. New research has found that 46 percent of consumers are considering making a financial resolution for the New Year. That number has increased 31 percent since 2009, the first year of the survey.
However, respondents are well aware of the challenges presented by financial resolutions. Thirty-eight percent of people say that keeping a financial resolution is harder than keeping a nonfinancial resolution. Despite those challenges, 46 percent of people say they have achieved 80 percent of their financial goals in the past.
Financial resolutions, however, are unlikely to be very different from those in previous years. In fact, respondents' top three financial resolutions were the same for the second consecutive year. Fifty-two percent of respondents say they plan to save more this year while 19 percent say they want to spend less and pay off debt. Respondents say they want to save an average of $2,400 for their long-term and short-term goals during 2013, which is double the amount for 2010 and the same amount as last year.
"It's encouraging that many Americans continue to recognize the importance of taking control over their own personal economy and are using the start of a New Year to reboot or maintain their focus on long-term savings," said Ken Hevert, vice president of Fidelity Investments, which conducted the research. "Fulfilling financial resolutions may take a few tries before getting into a groove, but can provide greater peace of mind down the road when savings are needed for important life events, such as retirement or a child entering college."
The researchers also found that respondents have more of an eye on the future than short-term goals. Sixty-five percent of consumers say they will be are saving for long-term goals compared with just 29 percent saving for short-term goals. Chief among those long-term goals is saving for retirement, college and health care costs in retirement.
While consumers will be focusing more on long-term goals, they are not ignoring short-term goals. Some of the respondents' short-term goals included building an emergency fund and paying down debt. Additionally, respondents also say they will be spending less money on holiday gifts this year. Those savings will be used to pay down debt, save or use on everyday expenses, the researchers found.
"Given the economic pressures facing investors today, there is a greater importance on adding structure to one’s personal finances and setting goals for the coming year," said Hevert. "Regardless of the goal, it’s important to focus on areas that you have the power to change, rather than allowing yourself to become derailed by factors that may be out of our control."
The research was based on the responses of 1,012 adults living in the United States.