Most Americans Showed Financial Restraint During Holidays


Only 1-in-6 Americans spent more than expected this holiday season, according to a new (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, 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.

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