The number of Americans ringing in the New Year by making financial resolutions is on the rise, with 37% considering one, compared to 31% in 2015, according to Fidelity Investments 7th annual New Year Financial Resolutions Study.
Fidelity speculates this may be, in part, a result of market volatility in 2015.
This year, the top three financial resolutions are saving more (54%), spending less (19%) and paying off debt (16%). “Paying down credit card debt,” another top resolution, is at an all-time high of 11%, more than double what it was last year (5%).
For those identifying saving as a top priority, nearly two-thirds (63%) prefer to set aside money for long-term goals such as college, retirement, and health care—up from 57% in 2014. Among the 32% saving for short-term goals, six in 10 said they would use their savings to build up an emergency fund, up from 52% in 2014.
Three key concerns are weighing on the minds of Americans as the New Year approaches. “Unexpected expenses” tops the list at 62%, followed by “the economy” (53%), fueled in large part by worries over global instability, as well as market volatility and interest rate concerns. “Health care costs in retirement” follows closely behind at 47%.NEXT: Financial resolutions can make a difference
Concern over the cost of health care is reflected in other findings, too: for those saving more for long-term goals, an all-time high 41% cited saving for retiree health care costs as an important focus. Furthermore, of those who indicated they’ve accumulated more debt this year, 19% identified unexpected or increased medical costs as the top reason—a figure that’s almost tripled from 2011, when only 7% cited it as the No. 1 reason.
The research suggests making financial resolutions can actually improve a person’s economic outlook. People who made financial resolutions at the start of 2015 are more optimistic, more debt-free and more financially secure than those who didn’t.
More than half (51%) of those who made financial resolutions at the start of 2015 feel strongly they will be better off financially in 2016, compared to only 38% of those who didn’t. Forty-five percent of those who made resolutions say they have less in debt this year compared to last year—versus 33% of those who didn’t. Forty-three percent say they are in a better financial situation this year than last, compared to 38%.
Looking strictly at those who nearly or completely achieved their 2015 resolutions, 56% said they were in a better financial situation this year, compared to 34% of those who didn’t come as close to achieving their resolutions. And, 51% said they were less in debt, compared to 40% who didn’t stick with their resolutions last year.
Overall, nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents predict they will be better off financially in 2016.
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