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On the heels of the Discover Spending Monitor, which showed that confidence regarding personal finance and the economy is down, Chase Card Services has released its own study, finding that 30% of Americans believe the economy is getting better.
This statistic is actually a close match to the Discover survey, in which 29% of those surveyed believe the economy is getting better.
The difference? For those polled by Stratalys Research, the independent market research firm that completed the Chase Blueprint Behavioral Panel Survey in November and January, this number is up by 7 percentage points, rather than down by 2%.
The Chase study was also more optimistic than the Discover survey in other areas, too.
For instance, only 21% of those polled in the Blueprint Survey believe their own finances are getting worse, down 3 points from before the holidays. This contrasts to 46% of those polled by Discover who believe their finances are getting worse.
The Chase survey also revealed other good news:
- 60% of Americans met or stayed below their spending goals during the holiday season
- 31% believe finances have reached bottom and are now improving.
- 69% of those who are more optimistic about their personal finances also feel they are more in control of their money
- Understandably, only 27% who are not optimistic report feeling “in control.”
- 71% who believe they are in control of their finances are optimistic
- Only 30% who say they are not in control feel optimistic
Control and Optimism Go Hand in Hand
This isn’t surprising. When consumers can take realistic control of their finances through careful budgeting and credit card features like the Chase Blueprint plan, it leads to optimism.
Even if our financial picture stays the same, budgeting lets us see how much we can spend, and how quickly we can get out of debt. In many cases, the picture isn’t as bleak as we had imagined before we looked at it in black and white.
For instance, maybe you feel like you have trouble meeting your expenses every month; you’re always running out of money. If you begin tracking your spending, you may find you’re spending money on things you don’t need, or perhaps you discover more ways you can save money.
By freeing that money up to pay off your credit cards, your minimum monthly payments decrease. Without that dark cloud, you start to feel more optimistic about the future.
Sometimes, writing a budget can be disheartening because people may realize they just don’t have enough money to make ends meet every month. With this knowledge, however, they can find a second job, ask for a raise, cut expenses or take other action to improve the picture.
In that situation, taking charge of your finances might make you feel less optimistic at first … but once you take action, you realize you have more control of your money than you think and you can work to create a more positive financial future.
How Did You Do With Your Holiday Spending?
Of course, everyone’s allowed a financial slip-up now and then, and if it happens, it usually happens during the holidays. That’s definitely what the Chase study found. In spite of 60% of people sticking to their holiday budget, Americans spent about 20% more than they said they would on holiday shopping.
Ninety-two percent of Americans set a holiday budget, and 91 % of those believed they managed to stick with it. However, data collected by Chase shows that only 79% actually stayed within budget.
Here’s another instance where knowledge is power. If you realize you blew your holiday budget, you can cut corners now to pay off those bills and avoid additional finance charges. Otherwise, come spring, you’ll wonder where these credit card bills came from and why you always seem to carry a balance. That’s a frustrating feeling that leads to feeling out of control about your financial future.
For many Americans, it could be wise to use their upcoming tax refunds to pay down holiday bills. Click here to read some additional tips to pay off any lingering holiday credit card debt.
What about you, CreditShout readers? Did you stick to your holiday budget? If not, did you make a plan to pay down that debt before the first thaw?