Fourth-quarter findings of the First Command Financial Behaviors IndexT reveal that the ranks of middle-class consumers with a positive savings-to-debt ratio - total savings compared to total debt - climbed to 42 percent in December, the highest level in the history of the Index. Moreover, the percentage of respondents with a positive savings-to-debt ratio reached 55 percent among families with a financial planner - an 11-point increase since July.
"Americans have made a New Year's resolution to ensure their financial security in 2010," said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. "The commitment is particularly strong among those with a financial plan. These goal-oriented consumers are redoubling their efforts to secure a strong financial future and achieving a greater sense of hope and security in the process."
This new frugality can be seen in the growing number of consumers who have permanently cut back on spending. In December, 27 percent of Americans indicated that they have cut back for good, nearly double the 14 percent who expressed the same sentiment at the beginning of 2009. The trend was underscored during the 2009 holiday shopping season, when 58 percent of survey respondents indicated that they would spend less than they did in 2008. Their cost-conscious behaviors were a repeat of 2008, when consumers responded to the economic turmoil with a reduction in holiday spending.
The desire of American families to increase savings and decrease debt can also be seen in their financial aspirations for 2010. They have resolved to:
--Cut back on excessive spending (40 percent)
--Get out of debt (35 percent)
--Use cash/debit more often instead of credit cards (29 percent)
--Learn not to live beyond their means (25 percent)
--Start saving for retirement/put more money into retirement savings (23 percent)
--Learn to budget responsibly (22 percent)
"Given these sound financial aspirations, Americans seem committed to a year marked by fiscal responsibility," Spiker said. "If January resolve leads to February follow-through, we could see an upward trend of feelings of financial security and optimism by the end of March."
About the First Command Financial Behaviors IndexT
Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, LLC, the First Command Financial Behaviors IndexT assesses trends among the American public's financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. www.firstcommand.com/research
About Sentient Decision Science, LLC
Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors IndexT. Sentient is a full-service market research firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. Sentient specializes in advanced research design and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.
About First Command
First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams-focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through personalized financial plans that emphasize accumulating wealth while reducing risk, First Command Financial Advisors have established lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.
First Command Financial Services, Inc. is the parent company of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member SIPC, FINRA) and First Command Bank (Member FDIC). Financial planning services and investment products, including securities products are offered by First Command Financial Planning, Inc. Insurance products and services are offered by First Command Financial Services, Inc. Banking products and services are offered by First Command Bank. Securities products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee and may lose value. In certain states, First Command Financial Services, Inc. is a separately registered domestic corporation and does business in California as "First Command Insurance Services." A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met.