Tuesday, January 14, 2014

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, more Americans are including financial goals.

This year, more than half of Americans will make New Year's resolutions affecting their financial lives.  That is an increase of 54% since 2009.

The annual Fidelity New Year Financial Resolutions Study found that although long-term financial goals are still the top financial priority of Americans, short-term goals gained significant traction among survey respondents this year.

In general, more than half (54%) of Americans said they typically consider making resolutions that affect their finances -- up from 35% who reported this in 2009. And for the third year in a row, the top three financial resolutions among those who are considering making a financial resolution for 2014 are saving more (54%), paying off debt (24%), and spending less (19%).

Among those who indicated that saving more was one of their goals for 2014, long-term financial goals continued to lead short-term goals, however the gap between the two narrowed considerably this year (53% versus 39%.) The top long-term savings goal was saving for retirement in a tax-deferred account (55%), followed by saving for college (35%) and saving for retiree health care costs (28%).

The top short-term savings goals included building an emergency fund (57%) and paying down debt (46%), while saving for luxury items, such as a boat or vehicle has dropped dramatically over the past few years from 19% in 2010 to 6% this year.

Nearly half of Americans said that ongoing uncertainty around the economy, the debt ceiling battles, and the potential of higher interest rates may deter their efforts to keep their 2014 financial resolutions; 39% of those polled believe that financial resolutions are easier to keep than other common resolutions (e.g., stop smoking, lose weight, find a new job) -- up from 28% in 2012.

Among other notable survey findings, 48% of Americans feel their taxes will be higher in 2014 as a result of the fiscal cliff tax law that was passed earlier this year.