Financial Optimism on the Rise: How Americans Plan to Spend and Stash Cash in 2013

Tue Jan 8, 2013 11:34am EST

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Americans Resolve to Advance Careers, Save More and Savor Life
NEW YORK--(Business Wire)--
More Americans (39% vs. 35% in 2012) say they are financially "optimistic" going
into 2013, while 10% (vs. 6%) report they are "unconcerned," according to the
latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. In the New Year, consumers
hope to save more, but don`t plan to hold on to their wallets too tightly. More
people (26% vs. 22% in 2012) plan to boost spending on leisure travel and many
hope to spend more on clothes and accessories (28% vs. 23% last year) home
redecoration (24% vs. 23%), dinners out (19% vs. 14%) and entertainment (19% vs.
14%). Big ticket purchases include buying a car (26%), house (8%), major
household appliance (17%) and undergoing significant home renovations (11%). 

Surveyed at the end of December, consumers reported the uptick in optimism and
planned spending increases despite pending uncertainty of the Fiscal Cliff
negotiations. Seventy-four percent of Americans (87% among affluents) said they
were aware of the Fiscal Cliff, and 59% (64% among Affluents) expected the
outcome to affect them personally. 

Financial Priorities in 2013: The Year to Stash Cash

But while more expect to spend more, Americans still named saving money (57%) as
a top intention for 2013, along with spending more time with family/friends
(51%) and upping their exercise routine (42%). However, when the survey zoomed
in on financial goals, they indicated a shift from last year`s priorities. More
consumers say finding a job or finding a better job (19% vs. 14% in 2012) is
their top financial goal, while last year the top spot was significantly
reducing or paying off debt-now number two on the priority list (17% vs. 19%). 

Last year, consumers saved an average of $5,906, $1,727 shy of their $7,633
goal. Going into 2013, consumers raised the bar, setting this year`s savings
goal at an average of $10,893. Affluents are raising it even higher, expecting
to save $22,660 in 2013 (vs. $14,445 in 2012). More Americans (89% vs. 82% in
2012) have a strategy to reach their 2013 savings goal, including saving from
primary income (51%), 2012 tax returns (26%) and paring back on little luxuries
like morning lattes and manicures (23%). Taking optimism one step further 21% of
Americans hope to win the lottery. 

While more consumers than last year say they are optimistic going into the New
Year, Americans are still split when it comes to their financial state of mind.
Those who say they feel optimistic (39%), unconcerned (10%) or indulgent (2%)
about finances account for just over half of Americans (51%), while the other
half says they feel frugal (21%), frightened (14%) and pessimistic (12%). 

The Year to: Travel, Even if it Means Going Alone

Consistent with last year, just over half (55%) expect to travel for fun this
year. Among affluents, 77% expect at least one leisure trip. Overall, the
majority of leisure travelers aren`t cutting their travel budgets, as 87% expect
to spend more or the same on trips this year. A good amount of that budget will
be allocated to airfare, as 74% of leisure travelers (89% among affluents) plan
to fly to at least one destination in 2013. 

This year`s trips aren`t as premeditated as last year. As of December, 50% of
leisure travelers had planned or booked travel for 2013, down from 57% the same
time last year. 

The survey also bodes well for kids; more parents (60% vs. 52% in 2012) expect
to bring their children along for the ride this year. At the other end of the
spectrum, more and more adults plan to forgo travel companions all together. In
a growing trend, 12% of travelers expect to travel for fun on their own, up
significantly from 7% the year before. 

The Year to: Dive into Digital

Digital devices continue to infuse into our daily lives, as more consumers say
they`ll spend more or the same on items including:

* Televisions (49% vs. 44% in 2012) 
* Tablets or e-book readers (48% vs. 42%) 
* Video game systems and games (45% vs. 39%) 
* Cameras or camcorders (45% vs. 41%) 
* Portable media players (44% vs. 38%)

Additionally, almost half of consumers (48%) say they own a smartphone. In
addition to phone calls, text messaging, checking email, taking photos and
browsing social media, many say they use their smartphones to manage finances on
a monthly basis. This includes mobile banking (41%), checking credit card
balances (28%), shopping and making purchases (28%), paying bills (27%) and
managing investments (11%). 

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online
among a random sample of 1508 adults, including the general U.S. population, an
affluent demographic, defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000.
Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between December 18 and December 20,
2012. These findings have a margin of error of ± 2.5 percentage points at the
95% level of confidence. 

About American Express

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American Express
Melanie Backs, 212-640-2164

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