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Americans making little progress on debt, savings, FW poll says

Americans continue to dip into their savings to pay for daily living expenses, make little progress on cutting household debt, and spend their tax stimulus checks on gasoline and other necessities, a survey sponsored by Fort Worth's First Command shows.

“Amid deteriorating economic conditions in the second quarter, Americans failed to follow through on intentions to save their economic stimulus checks and instead cut their short-term savings by 39 percent,” the firm said in its First Command Financial Behaviors Index.

Respondents to the survey in March indicated they planned to use their stimulus checks to increase savings and reduce debt.

“People are not doing what they planned,” Marty Durbin, president and chief operating officer of First Command, said in a release. “Despite the best of intentions, actual savings and debt reduction behaviors are falling while concern about the costs of everyday living is on the rise.”

  • Fifty-four percent of respondents expressed concerns about the cost of goods. And 73 percent said they were concerned about the costs of gas, up 12 points since February.
  • Short-term savings for the typical family totaled $696 in June, down 39 percent from $1,133 in March.
  • Consumers “don’t appear to be making any significant progress in reducing household debt, either.” June payments on short-term debt totaled $938, up about 7 percent from $878 in March. Payments on long-term debt totaled $1,166, up about 4 percent from $1,124 in March.
  • “Our research shows that U.S. consumers are concerned with their financial situation not only in the near future but also in the years to come,” Durbin said. “Only one in three Americans feel very confident their financial situation will improve next year.”

  • Positive changes in savings and debt reduction behaviors are not likely in the coming month. Consumers say they are less likely to increase the amount of money they put into savings and investments than in previous months. Only 17 percent of respondents said they intended to increase savings and investments in the next month compared to 25 percent in March.
  • Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, LLC, the First Command Financial Behaviors Index is conducted monthly with a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, age 25-70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000.