WILMINGTON, Del., September 18, 2012-More Americans believe that their personal finances and the economy are stable or improving than did a year ago, according to the annual Chase Pulse of the Consumer Survey. The majority of Americans, 64 percent, believe that the economy is either at bottom and stable or has already bottomed out and is getting better, compared to only 33 percent last year.
The 2012 Chase Pulse of the Consumer Survey takes a comprehensive look at Americans' financial habits and their attitudes toward the economy and their own finances. The survey reveals that 65 percent of consumers believe that their personal finances have already bottomed out and are either constant or getting better compared to only 56 percent at this time last year.
Savings Remains Primary Concern for Consumers
When it comes to managing their personal finances, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans are most concerned about having enough money in savings. Yet, only 36 percent of consumers have put more money into savings since the economic downturn.
Nearly two-thirds of consumers (64 percent) say their second biggest financial concern is saving for retirement. Despite their concern, only 34 percent of consumers have been saving more money for retirement since the economic downturn.
Consumers are less concerned with affording short term expenses than they are about their savings and financial futures. Just four in 10 (40 percent) consumers are concerned about paying their monthly credit card bills and loans, and mortgage or rent payments. Still, Americans are constantly looking for ways to save money. More than half (53 percent) of consumers are concerned about saving money on their everyday purchases.
"We're encouraged that consumers think the economy and their personal finances are on the upswing, but there is still work to be done," said Eileen Serra, chief executive officer, Chase Card Services. "Consumers continue to need the correct financial tools and services to better manage their everyday expenses - that is a critical first step to gaining full control over their financial future."
Controlling Daily Expenses
Americans have changed their behaviors as a result of the economic downturn and have gained better control of their daily expenses, according to the Chase Pulse of the Consumer Survey. Nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) consumers said they have changed their spending habits and are now spending less on everyday items as a way to cope. To help get their finances in order, more than three-fifths (61 percent) of consumers have been paying down their credit card balance faster and more than half (54 percent) have created a monthly budget.
When budgeting for an unexpected $1,500 expense, nearly half (49 percent) of respondents would pay for the expense with a credit card. Half of these consumers would pay the credit card bill in full and the other half would pay it off over time. Of those planning to pay the credit card bill off over time, 83 percent of them would have a plan to pay it off. When it comes to managing everyday purchases, 45 percent of respondents say they are financially motivated to ensure that they're getting the most for their money.
Planning for Major Purchases
With daily expenses under control, 61 percent of Americans are now concerned about managing major purchases. Buying a new car (38 percent), taking a dream vacation (24 percent) and buying a home or condo (20 percent) are the top three large expenses that Americans anticipate experiencing within the next five years. There was an 11 percent increase and a 13 percent increase in the number of consumers planning to buy a car or buy a home or condo, respectively, within the next five years compared to last year.
Budgeting With Technology
The survey also reveals that 70 percent of Americans find online banking, credit card websites or both to be most valuable in managing their personal finances. Consumers ages 18-34 and 45-54 find online banking to be the most valuable when managing their personal finances with 77 percent and 71 percent, respectively, compared to 62 percent of consumers ages 35-44.
While mobile innovations are quickly on the rise, about one-quarter (24 percent) of Americans find bank mobile apps, credit card mobile apps or both valuable.
"All signs point to mobile payments and online banking increasing at a rapid pace over the next few years," said Serra. "Chase continues to make a significant investment in mobile to ensure our customers have secure and seamless on-the-go technology to manage their finances."
About the Survey
The 2012 Chase Pulse of the Consumer Survey, an online poll of a nationally representative sample of 1,019 adults age 18 and older, was conducted July 30 to August 10, 2012 on behalf of Chase Card Services via Research Now, an independent research company. The margin of error is ±3 percentage points. Some trended survey results may differ from last year due to a change in methodology. In 2011, the survey was conducted via telephone rather than online.
Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.3 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. Chase serves more than 50 million consumers and small businesses through more than 5,500 bank branches, 17,500 ATMs, credit cards, mortgage offices, and online and mobile banking as well as through relationships with auto dealerships. More information about Chase is available at www.chase.com.