NEW YORK, Jan. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Slightly more than one in four Americans (26%) spent less than they expected during the holiday shopping season, according to a new Bankrate.com (NYSE: RATE) report. Only 14% of Americans spent more than expected; more than half (57%) spent about what they expected.
The tightfistedness was fairly universal: no age group collectively spent more than expected. And only the highest-income group (those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more) was more inclined to have spent more rather than less this holiday season.
Bankrate.com's latest Financial Security Index results, however, tell a more upbeat story about consumers' finances. The Financial Security Index hit a seven-month high of 102.6 in January (readings above 100 illustrate improved financial security versus one year ago). The most prominent areas of improvement were consumers' comfort levels with debt and feelings about their overall financial situations.
"The U.S. economy has definitely carried some momentum into 2014, but it's still a slow-growth economy with high unemployment and stagnant household income," said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com's senior financial analyst. "Consider that the economy has hit a rough patch each year of the recovery, usually in the first half of the year, and has underperformed the Fed's estimates year-in and year-out. I expect similar results in 2014."
Compared to one year ago, consumers noted improvement on four of the Index's five components: debt, overall financial situation, job security and net worth. While Americans are still, by and large, feeling negative about the fifth component (savings), the numbers are improving. This month's reading on savings is the least negative it has been since polling began in Dec. 2010. At present, those feeling less comfortable with their savings compared to one year ago outnumber those feeling more comfortable by a three-to-two margin.
Senior citizens (ages 65+) are more likely than other age groups to say their financial situation is worse today than it was one year ago. Among income groups, only the lowest-income households (under $30,000 per year) report that their overall financial situation is worse now.
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) and can be seen in its entirety here:
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PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,005 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (505, including 268 without a landline phone) in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from January 2-5, 2014. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
About Bankrate, Inc.
Bankrate is a leading publisher, aggregator, and distributor of personal finance content on the Internet. Bankrate provides consumers with proprietary, fully researched, comprehensive, independent and objective personal finance editorial content across multiple vertical categories including mortgages, deposits, insurance, credit cards, and other categories, such as retirement, automobile loans, and taxes. The Bankrate network includes Bankrate.com, our flagship website, and other owned and operated personal finance websites, including CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Bankaholic.com, Mortgage-calc.com, CreditCardGuide.com, Nationwide Card Services, InsuranceQuotes.com, CarInsuranceQuotes.com, InsureMe, Bankrate.com.cn, CreditCards.ca, NetQuote.com, and CD.com. Bankrate aggregates rate information from over 4,800 institutions on more than 300 financial products. With coverage of nearly 600 local markets in all 50 U.S. states, Bankrate generates over 172,000 distinct rate tables capturing on average over three million pieces of information daily. Bankrate develops and provides web services to over 80 co-branded websites with online partners, including some of the most trusted and frequently visited personal finance sites on the Internet such as Yahoo!, AOL, CNBC, and Bloomberg. In addition, Bankrate licenses editorial content to over 500 newspapers on a daily basis including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.
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