BELLEVUE, Neb. (7/11/12)--Regaining financial stability following the recession--mainly by managing debt--remains a primary area of focus for many who reside in the Midwest, according to a new survey co-sponsored by SAC FCU in Bellevue, Neb., and the Institute for Career Advancement Needs (ICAN).
More than 5,500 respondents participated in the online survey titled Leading the Way-The 2012 Leadership and Finances Survey.
"Decreasing debt" was cited as the financial area they are most looking to improve upon in the year ahead as it relates to finances, taking priority over "growing personal savings," which was the second most popular response and "saving for retirement," which ranked third.
Respondents also expressed doubts regarding their financial outlook, 68% reporting they were only "somewhat confident" in the overall state of their finances. They said they are managing their finances as best they can, but feel there is room for improvement when preparing for the future.
Of those "not confident" in the overall state of their finances, 65% were women--reporting that they are not managing their finances well and are not prepared for the future.
So what is fueling this sentiment? The recession appears to be playing a role, with 44% of respondents reporting the recession and market volatility have made them rethink how they view their personal finances. Of this group, the majority said the recession made them realize that they should be more conservative with their money, and become more educated overall regarding money management.
- 40% reported the recession made them realize they need to spend less and save more, and 57% of respondents in this group were women;
- 28% said it made them realize they need to learn more about overall money management, such as budgeting, saving, debt consolidation and refinancing; and 61% of this group were women;
- 24% reported it made them realize they need to learn more about their own financial situation and take more of an active role.
Of those who hope to improve in "decreasing debts," "growing their personal savings" and "saving for retirement" next year, 93% are either "confident" or "somewhat confident" they will meet their goals.
The $570 million asset SAC FCU offered these following tips for consumers:
Examine your current financial position--Perform an audit on personal finances, noting all major debts, interest percentages, amounts allocated to savings as well as impending expenses that will require additional planning, such as retirement and higher education.
Identify areas of opportunity--Given a financial situation, are there opportunities to consider for improving the outlook, such as refinancing major assets such as a car or home, consolidating debts or establishing a long-term savings plan?
Make it happen--Once key opportunities for optimizing finances have been identified, be sure to follow through. Find a financial partner to help prioritize and implement plans based on goals.