Even before this year’s economic downturn and other disruptions brought about by the coronavirus, too many Americans were already struggling to regularly set aside money for retirement and other major expenses. An updated poll conducted by Fidelity Investments, though, suggests that a lot of people are determined to do a better job of saving in 2021. Specifically, 65 percent of surveyed U.S. adults said that they plan on making at least one financial resolution for the new year, and 44 percent reported that “saving more” is a top goal. Roughly the same proportion of respondents (43 percent) also pledged to reduce their debt load in 2021, and nearly a third (30 percent) said they intend to cut back on discretionary spending. Compared to traditional New Year's resolutions like exercising more, eating healthy, or some other type of self-improvement, surveyed Americans were significantly more likely to prefer committing to a money-related goal in 2021. When asked what motivates them to prioritize finances in the year ahead, the top responses were achieving a greater peace of mind, being able to live debt-free, and eliminating general financial worry.
Eight in ten surveyed adults also said that they intend to build up their emergency fund in 2021, and many respondents cited plans to increase the amount of money they regularly set aside for retirement as well. The likelihood of these people actually boosting their savings in the year ahead appears quite high because a 72 percent majority of surveyed adults anticipate being better off financially in 2021, likely a reflection of growing confidence in the economic recovery. Of course sticking to any New Year's resolution can be challenging, especially during a global pandemic, and several surveyed Americans indeed admitted that they failed to follow through on their financial goals in 2020. As for the resolution setters who were still successful even in the face of this year’s economic tumult, one thing that appeared to help was working with an advisor because more than three-quarters (77 percent) of surveyed Americans who said that they regularly consulted with a financial professional last year reported being able to stick to their 2020 financial resolutions, compared to just 50 percent among those who did not work with an advisor. Other common advice recommended by those who achieved their 2020 financial resolutions include making sure that the New Year's goals are clearly-defined and achievable, along with utilizing small milestones and general progress tracking to stay motivated over the course of the year.
Sources: Fidelity Investments