A new March survey as part of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index found that only 22% of those polled who put money into short-term savings last month are extremely or very stressed about the current economy, compared to 34% of stressed respondents who did not save during the month, according to a news release.
Working with a financial adviser apparently also helps damp down the stress levels. The news release said 10% of respondents reported cutting back over the last 12 months with the aid of an adviser. Of those 7% felt economic stress versus 10% without an adviser suffering elevated stress levels.
“The practice of saving increases financial optimism,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command, a Fort Worth, Texas-based financial advisory firm, in the announcement. “The March results reveal that in a time of great economic turmoil and uncertainty, saving even as little as $5 can reduce feelings of stress. Financial optimism isn’t dependent on how much one has accumulated in savings. Rather, it’s the practice of saving that creates an emotional lift.”
More than one-third of respondents (35%) agree that they feel uncertain about whether they should use their money to increase savings or pay down debt.
The survey also found that respondents are continuing to tighten their belts. They are reducing spending on leisure activities (56%), clothing purchases (52%), and household goods consumption (42%). In March, 28% of respondents indicated that they would continue to cut back on spending for one year or less compared to 22% who said the same in February.
The survey covered approximately 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. More information is at www.firstcommand.com/research .