Americans Celebrating with Cash, Not Credit, This Holiday Season COUNTRY Survey: Americans Displaying Debt Discipline

BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Nov. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans may be trying to avoid the "holiday hangover" this year with a no-credit shopping season. According to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index®, 61 percent plan to use cash, check or debit card to pay for most of their holiday purchases. Just 29 percent say they will use credit.

This cash-is-king mentality might seem surprising given Americans are more likely to have four or more credit cards (22 percent) than they are to have no cards at all (18 percent). However, the prevalent use of cash could be a result of Americans' unwillingness to take on debt.

  • More than half (56 percent) say they are not willing to take on any debt for their holiday shopping.
  • Another 26 percent say they are willing to take on debt of less than $500.
  • Only 15 percent say they would take on $500 or more in debt.

"As Americans gear up for the holiday shopping season this year, it's encouraging to see they seem to be considering the bigger financial effects of their spending – a sign that Americans may be putting lessons learned from the recent economic downturn and prolonged recovery into practice," says Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security support at COUNTRY Financial. "To keep your spending in check, using cash – whether it's dollar bills, checks or debit cards – for holiday purchases is a great way to avoid taking on debt."

For an infographic depicting how much debt Americans are willing to take on this holiday season, visit www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com.

Beyond avoiding new debt during the holiday season, Americans are disciplined about paying down debt on a regular basis and plan to keep it that way. Sixty-four percent say they are regularly paying down bad debt and 86 percent are confident they will not miss a credit card payment or be late paying other bills in the next six months.

This confidence may explain why 74 percent say they are comfortable with their credit score or report, despite the fact that nearly one in four (23 percent) have not checked their credit score or report in two years or more and another 8 percent have never checked it.

"It's great to see Americans are focused on avoiding and paying down debt, but checking your credit score and report is something you should do on an annual basis," add Buhrmann. "Even if you're confident about your habits, having a good grasp of your credit score or report will help inform your financial plan for achieving short-term and long-term goals."

Are Women More Comfortable with Credit Than Men?
When it comes to credit and debt, men and women display different habits.

  • Women are more likely than men to have four or more credit cards (25 percent vs. 20 percent), but it seems they are better at managing it.
  • More than half of women (52 percent) have checked their credit score or report within the last year, compared to 44 percent of men.  
  • Sixty-eight percent of women say they are regularly paying down bad debt in comparison to 60 percent of men.
  • Perhaps these findings explain why women (77 percent) are more likely to say they are comfortable with their credit score or report than men (71 percent).

Put It on My Platinum
In comparison to other income brackets, those earning $200,000 or more annually are the most likely to use credit to pay for their holiday purchases (48 percent). This is at least 7 percent higher than any other age group. This group is also the most likely to have checked their credit score or report within the last year (75 percent).

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®
Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans' sentiments of their personal financial security. The COUNTRY Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com and on Twitter at @FinanceSecure.

The COUNTRY Index was created by COUNTRY Financial  and is compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm, based on a national telephone and online survey of at least 3,000 Americans. 

The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About COUNTRY
COUNTRY Financial (www.countryfinancial.com) serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.

SOURCE COUNTRY Financial



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