Though Worried about Finances, Many Doing Nothing

August 11, 2009 ( - A survey of U.S. homeowners by Wells Fargo & Company finds fear of unemployment and the state of the job market most influence homeowners' concern over their financial situation, yet, when asked how they are conducting their personal finances, two in five homeowners (38%) say they have made no significant changes in the past year.

According to a press release, those who have made no changes cited they “don’t have a need” as the primary reason.

Sixty percent of respondents ages 18 to 41 say something else is holding them back compared to 27% of those who are 42 and older. Nearly one quarter of younger homeowners (24%) say it seems pointless given their financial situation, while another 22% seem to be procrastinating, saying they “plan to but haven’t started yet.”

The rest either don’t know how or what to do (10%), don’t have the time (6%), or don’t want to even though they should (2%), the press release said.

The survey also shows that younger homeowners are not as educated as they would like to be about how to effectively establish and use credit. Thirty-five percent of homeowners ages 18 to 29 and 19% of those ages 30 to 41 say they have not recently sought information on how to get and improve their credit but wanted to do so, compared to just 11% of homeowners ages 42 to 60 and only 3% of those ages 61 and over.

Other homeowners say they’re spending less. Thirty percent of homeowners say in the past year they’ve paid down debt, and 25% say they’ve learned how to better manage their budget on their own.

Compared to a year ago, homeowners are spending even less, with at least 50% reducing what they spend on entertainment and vacations, 50% looking for the lowest prices, and about two in five homeowners (37%) purchasing only what they need.

“The silver lining of this economy seems to be the changes to more financial healthy behavior,” said Jamie Moldafsky of the Wells Fargo Home Equity Group, in the press release. “When homeowners were asked if they plan to make specific changes in their spending short-term, while the economy is in a recession, or long-term changes after the economy has recovered, 77% of homeowners who are purchasing only what they need plan make it a long-term behavior. A large majority of those who are price shopping, teaching children about managing finances and budgeting consider these to be long-term changes in their lives.”