Though this year has been exceptionally unpredictable, many personal finance experts advised people to focus on what was within their control—how they managed their money.
Many Americans heeded this advice. In fact, 79% of U.S. adults say they are thankful for the financial moves that they made this year, according to a new Tally survey conducted online by The Harris Poll. This survey was between November 18 and 20, 2020 among 2,076 U.S. adults aged 18 or older. Only 6% of Americans are not thankful for making financial moves this year, while another 15% say they did not make any financial moves this year.
So what determines whether you’re likely to feel grateful or not? A job. Americans who are currently employed (88%) are more likely to be thankful for making certain financial moves than those who are not employed, including unemployed, those who choose not to work, students, homemakers, or those who are retired (68%). This likely reflects their overall financial well-being: those making money are more likely to have the means to make money moves.
With nowhere to go and not much to do during an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have largely cut back on their spending in 2020. Between April and June, credit card balances dropped by $76 billion as most Americans cut out non-essential spending and paid down their existing credit card debt (NY Fed).
Out of all the financial moves made this year, the top move Americans are thankful for is spending less money (50%). This sentiment is higher among employed Americans than those who are not employed (55% vs 45%).
While 36% of U.S. adults are thankful for spending less money overall this year, nearly a quarter (22%) say they are thankful for continuing to spend less even as the economy reopened.
So what did Americans do with this extra cash? For some, this was an opportunity to repay their debts. More than a third of Americans (34%) are thankful for paying down/off their debt this year with 22% thankful for paying down/off credit card debt, 7% thankful for paying down/off their student loans and 16% thankful for paying down/off other debt.
Never has there been a more opportune time to save and invest—if you have the money. Though interest rates are at record lows, the pandemic forced many Americans to cut costs, thereby freeing up cash to be saved or invested.
More than a third of Americans (36%) are thankful for saving more money this year. This sentiment is significantly higher among employed Americans than those who are not employed (43% vs 27%). As for what people are thankful to be saving up for: 22% say saving more money overall, 15% say saving more money for their emergency fund, 14% say saving more for retirement, 7% say saving up for their child(ren)’s college fund.
For those who choose to invest, the U.S. stock market has done very well this year despite also being incredibly volatile. However, less than a fifth of Americans (19%) are thankful for investing in the stock market this year. Employed Americans are more likely to share this sentiment than those who are not employed (25% vs 10%).
In July, more than half of young adults aged 18 to 29 (52%) reported living with one or both of their parents—a jump from 47% in February (Pew Research). What was expected to be a short stint became an indefinite stay.
When asked if they are thankful for moving back in with their parents to save on living costs, 15% of Gen Zers (18-23 year olds) said ‘yes’ compared to just 9% of Millennials (24-39 year olds). When looking at Americans overall, just 6% shared this same sentiment. This suggests that more Gen Zers may be taking advantage of the costs-savings that come with living with their parents than Millennials.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Tally from November 18-20, 2020 among 2,076 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact email@example.com.