Despite concern over the state of the country’s political environment and the potential for a major recession in 2019, Americans are putting less focus on their finances heading into in the New Year.
According to the 10th annual New Year’s Resolution Study* from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, fewer Americans are troubled about financial issues like stagnant wages (23%) and job security (18%) than they were in 2017 (30% and 26%, respectively).
Instead, more plan to focus on their health/wellness rather than financial stability, with nearly half (49%) of Americans choosing health/wellness as their top priority for 2019 versus 27% who chose financial stability, the biggest difference between the two choices in the past six years of the study.
Millennials are leading this optimistic outlook on finances. Less than one-third (29%) of respondents ages 18-34 list stagnant wages as one of their most worrisome threats of 2018 versus 37% last year.
Only 24% cite job security as one of their top concerns versus 37% in 2017. Following this trend, financial stability decreased slightly as a focus for millennials, with 29% listing it as their top focus going into 2019 versus 31% who noted it as their top focus for this year.
“Despite recent market volatility and recession concerns, many people seem to be more positive about their personal financial situation, with millennials in particular displaying a curious resistance to financial despondency,” said Paul Kelash, vice president of Consumer Insights, Allianz Life. “The only warning might be to ensure personal optimism doesn’t lead to unnecessary spending that can derail a financial plan.”
Practicing better financial habits
Millennials reported more success with curbing their worst financial habits this year. Less than one-third (31%) noted “spending too much” as their worst financial habit versus 45% in 2017, and only 24% said they are having issues with “not saving any money” this year versus 32% who listed it as their worst financial habit a year ago.
Despite reporting better financial habits, some concerning trends also emerged. Money management dropped as a focus in millennials’ New Year’s Resolutions for 2019, with only 50% listing it as a resolution they are most likely to keep, down from 60% last year. The desire to manage money better and save more dropped for all Americans, down from 42% in 2017 to 37% in 2018.
Desire for financial planning
Although they’re feeling more optimistic about their day-to-day finances, many Americans still want financial planning, including getting professional assistance. Nearly one in five (18%) respondents said they will include financial planning in their resolutions for next year, with millennials once again leading the way at 27% (versus 16% for 35-54 and 11% for 55+). When asked which professional is most desired if given free access in 2019, financial professionals topped the list along with nutritionists at 43%, followed by personal trainers (35%), lawyers (31%) and therapists (30%).
Almost one-third (31%) also claimed they would be more likely to seek the advice of a financial professional in 2019, driven largely by the nearly half (47%) of millennials who noted their desire to get financial planning help in the new year (versus 26% for 35-54 and 21% for 55+).
“Many Americans – especially younger people – continue to see the value in financial planning and working with a financial professional,” added Kelash. “The new year can be an opportune time to evaluate your financial situation and ensure you have a plan to address both short- and long-term goals.”
2018 New Year’s Resolution Study – Fast Facts