American families are said to have a newfound commitment to cutting household expenses and saving money, according to the First Command Financial Behaviors Index that was just released.   Results indicate that these families are shaving down costs in a number of areas. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they are spending less on leisure activities, 48 percent are cutting their utility bills, 40 percent are increasing their use of coupons, 46 percent are shopping at discount stores, 39 percent are buying generic products, and 38 percent canceled or postponed the purchase of high-ticket items.   As they trim expenses, consumers are putting more money into savings. Short-term savings for the typical family totaled $883 in January, up 13 percent from $783 in December. And long-term savings totaled $335 in January, up 83 percent from $183 in December. These behaviors are consistent with the increased intention to save more in 2009 that consumers expressed in December; the Intentions sub-index jumped 25 points in December to 105--an eight-month high, and the increased savings behaviors followed in step this January.   American families are continuing to feel the impact of current economic conditions. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they lost money in their retirement accounts and 47 percent lost money in stocks.   On a promising note, seven percent said they have reacted to the economic turmoil by opting to work with a financial planner. One of the continuing trends revealed by the Index is that people who have a financial plan through a financial planner report greater confidence in their ability to retire comfortably, greater financial security on a day-to-day basis and they report feeling less financially stretched than those without a plan. In fact, as the economy deteriorated in late 2008, households with a financial plan actually reported an increase in feelings of financial security. In December more than 53 percent of respondents with a financial plan said they did not feel financially stretched, up from 48 percent in September.   “The proactive financial behaviors revealed in the First Command Financial Behaviors Index appear to reflect a growing commitment to fiscal responsibility in middle-class America,” says Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command. “Consumers are concerned about their own economic situations, and they are taking concrete steps to improve their family finances.”   (Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, LLC, the First Command Financial Behaviors Index assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes, and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. For more information, visit

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