Americans Optimistic About Their Financial Prospects for 2019

For the 10th consecutive year, their top financial resolution for the New Year is to save more, Fidelity learned in a survey.

Americans’ top three financial goals for the New Year are to save more, cited by 48%, to pay down debt (29%) and spend less (15%), according to the 10th Annual Fidelity Resolutions Study. This is the 10th year in a row that these three goals have been Americans’ top financial resolutions for the New Year.

Thirty-two percent of respondents intend to make a financial resolution for the year ahead, up from 27% a year ago. Forty-two percent say they are in a better financial situation than they were in 2017, and 75% expect they will be better off financially in 2019.

“The uptick we’re seeing in financial resolutions tells us people are no longer willing to remain complacent about their finances because the stock market has performed well in the last decade,” says Ken Hevert, senior vice president of retirement and income solutions at Fidelity Investments. “On the heels of what is the longest bull market in history, Americans are re-examining their financial mistakes and revisiting areas that could stand improvement. They want to maintain momentum in the New Year, no matter what the market brings.”

When asked if their family is better off or in a similar situation than they were a year ago, 87% of people say that this is the case. Fifty-five percent say that saving more money has helped, followed by budgeting (53%). Getting a new job or promotion and reducing debt tied as the third most popular reasons, cited by 44% each.

Among those who have pledged to save more in 2019, 66% plan to save for long-term goals, up from 54% in 2017. Forty-eight percent are planning to increase their savings to a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA) by 1 percentage point or more of their salary in 2019, up from 43% in 2017.

Seventy-four percent say that they were able to stick with their resolution in the past year, but 58% say they made financial mistakes that derailed their progress.

Asked what keeps them up at night, 50% say it is unexpected expenses. Forty-seven percent say it is rising health care costs, the economy and stock market volatility. Forty-three percent say it is rising interest rates.

Engine Insights conducted the telephone survey of 2,005 adults for Fidelity in October.