ING DIRECT USA Survey: 2010 - The Year of Personal Financial Optimism

Americans Optimistic about Home Economics, U.S. Economy in New Year

Jan 14, 2010, 09:45 ET from ING DIRECT USA

WILMINGTON, Del., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans are raising an optimistic toast to their personal finances in 2010, taking meaningful steps to improve their own financial situations and ring in a more hopeful year. A new survey sponsored by ING DIRECT USA found 43 percent of Americans are optimistic about their personal finances this year and listed among their most important goals: spending less overall, building up an emergency fund and earning enough to cover monthly bills.

"Americans believe 2010 will bring some economic recovery," said Arkadi Kuhlmann, President of ING DIRECT USA. "However, before Americans can say goodbye to the recession, they must first get their home economics in order.  Having a savings account with emergency funds, managing expenses to avoid late fees and interest payments, and eliminating debt should be top priorities this year."

Home economics

In 2009, the recession hit close to home providing many lessons learned for the year ahead. The relatively optimistic financial mood is yielding opportunities to reprioritize financial goals and strategies. Americans are acting to improve their personal finances by taking control of their money, spending on "needs" rather than "wants" and continuing to bet on savings in 2010.  According to the survey:

  • Two-thirds, (64 percent) of Americans plan to stash more cash in 2010 than in 2009;
  • More than nine out of ten (93 percent) Americans with children under 18 in the household say earning enough to cover monthly bills is important as a financial goal for the New Year;
  • Close to nine out of ten (89 percent) say building an emergency fund is important;
  • More than two thirds, (71 percent) of Americans say investing more for retirement is important, while 60 percent say paying off credit card debt is an important financial goal for 2010; and
  • Spending less overall is an important financial goal for 91 percent of Americans.

When will the U.S. economy improve?

Nearly four in ten (37 percent) Americans are hopeful about America's recovery in 2010, while about one in five (19 percent) are feeling pessimistic or anxious and stressed about the economy.

  • Nearly three-fifths of Americans (58 percent) think fewer pink slips being handed out and more people finding work will be the strongest indicators for economic recovery.

One in four (25 percent) Americans believe that people taking vacations away from home will prove that the U.S. economy is improving.  One in five (20 percent) believe that people dining out more will be an indicator of an improving U.S. economy.

While there is hope for a better year in 2010, 26 percent of Americans are still feeling pessimistic about their financial situation improving. To help Americans get their personal finances back on track, ING DIRECT offers five financial resolutions for the New Year and simple ways to keep them.

Five Financial Resolutions for 2010

  1. Pay Yourself First – If you wake up in 2010 with a holiday debt hangover, it's time to give a little to your personal funds. Take advantage of Automatic Savings Plans to put your money on cruise control, and start saving a little every week or month.
  2. Save On Your Biggest Asset – Is your 2010 goal to own your first home? A first-time homebuyer tax credit is available through April and can save you thousands of dollars. Already have your first place? Give yourself a mortgage check-up to see if you can pay off your loan faster, look into the possibility of refinancing to a lower rate and save the difference or find do-it-yourself home improvements to increase the value of your house.
  3. Save for Retirement – Want a gift that keeps on giving? Consolidate retirement and investment assets in the New Year to see long-term benefits. Consider opening or fully funding an IRA before April 15 – tax day – so that your contributions apply to the 2009 tax year.
  4. Teach Kids to Save – The youngsters in your life probably won't think to make a financial resolution this year, but you can make it for them instead. Find fun and educational games for free online that teach kids about money and investing, and see how fast they start to save.
  5. Overcome Investing Fear – The average American spends more time researching a new refrigerator than they do stocks. Don't put your investment goals on ice this year; take time to understand diversification and asset allocation, and how putting your money in a few different investment categories can help you reach your goals.

Harris Interactive® fielded the study on behalf of ING DIRECT from December 14-16, 2009 via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,136 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

About ING DIRECT USA and ShareBuilder

ING DIRECT USA, the nation's largest direct bank and largest thrift, is dedicated to inspiring Americans to become a nation of savers. Since its inception in 2000, more than 7.6 million Americans have entrusted their savings with ING DIRECT USA, building the bank to $89.7 billion in assets. ING DIRECT USA has developed a comprehensive social media Savers Community, including Twitter, Facebook and its We, The Savers blog. For more information about ING DIRECT USA call 1-800-ING-DIRECT, and for information about its commitment to financial education visit Planet Orange.  

ShareBuilder Securities Corporation is an online brokerage designed for automatic, long-term investing.  The company's vision is to increase the personal investing rate of the average American by helping individuals build and manage wealth over the long term.  Customers pay low commissions on individual transactions, have no account minimum and can choose from three pricing programs.  ShareBuilder offers investment products including stocks, exchange-traded funds, and mutual funds. ShareBuilder Securities Corporation, a subsidiary of ING Bank, fsb, is a registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC.  For more information about ShareBuilder, please visit Twitter and Facebook.

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