More consumers are reporting this holiday season that their finances have deteriorated over the past year.
In a nationwide survey of 1,011 American adults this month by the Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association, 37 percent reported that their financial condition was worse this year than a year ago, a significantly higher percentage than the 30 percent who responded that way in last year’s survey. This year only 19 percent reported that their condition was better compared to a year ago, while 23 percent responded that way last year.
Forty-one percent said they plan to spend less this year than last year, compared to only 8 percent who said they planned to spend more. Those two findings are almost identical to last year's results, when the same percentage (41 percent) indicated they planned to spend less, and a slightly larger 10 percent said they intended to spend more.
However, these results are an improvement from the 55 percent of respondents who said they planned to spend less in 2008’s survey, in the midst of the recession.
The survey revealed a direct link between financial condition and spending. Of those who said they planned to spend more, 33 percent indicated their financial condition was better than a year ago, while only 19 percent said it was worse. Of those who said they planned to spend less, only 15 percent indicated their financial condition was better, while 55 percent said it was worse.
The lingering effects of the recession, as well as the consumer and mortgage debt overhang, are also seen in the survey. Over the past year, those who said they were worried about meeting their monthly credit card payments rose from 24 to 27 percent, while those worried about meeting payments on all types of debt (including mortgage debt) rose from 43 to 45 percent.
High-income households are much more likely to report improvement in their financial situation than are low- and moderate- income households over the past year. Of those households with at least $100,000 in annual incomes, 35 percent said their financial situation was better and only 18 percent said it was worse.
In comparison, of those households with annual incomes below $25,000, 13 percent indicated improvement and 50 percent reported worsening of their financial condition in the past year. And of those households with annual incomes of $25,000-$50,000, 24 percent indicated improvement and 39 percent indicated worsening of their financial situation. Slightly more than half of all U.S. households have incomes below $50,000.
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