Only 1-in-6 Americans spent more than expected this holiday season, according to a new Bankrate.com (NYSE: RATE) report. This is consistent with readings in previous years. Millennials (Americans ages 18-29) were twice as likely as those ages 30-49 to have spent more during the holidays than intended. Overall, 1-in-4 Americans spent less than expected this holiday season.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the highest income households were the most likely to have spent more than expected and the lowest income households were most likely to have spent less than expected. However, among all income groups, the tendency to spend less than expected outnumbered those spending more than expected.
“The majority of Americans stayed within budget this holiday season, as they have in recent years, which is likely a reflection of stagnant income and limited buying power,” said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com chief financial analyst.
The Financial Security Index hit the highest point in its four year history, climbing to 103.1. Any reading above 100 indicates improved financial security compared to one year ago, while any reading below 100 indicates deterioration in financial security over the preceding year. The record level in the index isn’t a result of a surge in optimism among Americans, but rather fewer people noting deterioration.
“Americans’ feelings of financial security hit a record high, not because things got better, as much as they got ‘less bad,'” said McBride.
Comfort level with savings and debt, consumers’ net worth, and feelings about their overall financial situation all had the lowest levels of negative responses seen in the four years of polling. Increasingly, Americans that had been experiencing a deterioration in financial security are now seeing those conditions stabilize, with more Americans saying their situations are the same or better than one year ago.
In all components of the Financial Security Index, Millennials have the highest instance of all age groups of noting improved conditions compared to one year ago.
Women’s feelings of financial security moved onto positive ground for the first time since June 2014, rising to 101.5. In all five components, fewer women cited deterioration, which drove the improved readings. The reading for men came in at 104.5, with improvement seen on all components except overall financial situation.
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) and can be seen in its entirety here:
PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (500, including 290 without a landline phone) in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from January 8-11, 2015. 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 3.7 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, CreditCards.com, InsuranceQuotes.com and Caring.com, our flagship websites, and other owned and operated personal finance websites, including Interest.com, Bankaholic.com, Mortgage-calc.com, CreditCardGuide.com, CarInsuranceQuotes.com, Insweb.com, CreditCards.ca, and NetQuote.com. Bankrate aggregates rate information from over 4,800 institutions on more than 300 financial products. With coverage of over 600 local markets, Bankrate generates rate tables in all 50 U.S. states. Bankrate develops and provides web services to over 100 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.