This holiday season, Americans are wishing for a better employment picture for the United States, according to the latest quarterly pulse survey from Charles Schwab and Co., Inc. Nearly half (46 percent) of Americans wish to unwrap a lower unemployment rate for the country this holiday season, followed by a substantial decrease in the national debt (26 percent) and a better housing market (12 percent). Though a financial resolution in Europe remains unclear, only four percent of respondents want to unwrap a solution to the European debt crisis, showing that Americans’ focus is primarily on economic issues at home.
When it comes to a financial gift for themselves this holiday season, Americans appear torn between treating themselves now and saving for their future. Almost a quarter of Americans (22 percent) say their top wish is for money to pay for a vacation or buy something for themselves. However, almost as many (21 percent) wish to have more money for retirement. Retirement savings is especially important among households with an income of more than $100,000, with 39 percent saying additional money to put toward retirement is the gift they most want to open this season.
According to Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. senior vice president, CFP®, saving for retirement and enjoying some flexible spending now aren’t mutually exclusive. “It’s really about finding the right balance of spending and saving that fits your unique budget and situation,” says Pomerantz. “A smart way to approach holiday spending is to crunch the numbers and avoid creating significant debt. Keep holiday spending in check relative to your long-term retirement savings goals, which should be at least around 10 percent of your annual income.”
Additional findings include:
- When looking back on the past year, 36 percent of those surveyed say their employment status or that of a family member had the greatest impact on their financial decision making, and 50 percent of those ages 18 to 34 feel that way. One in five (20 percent) Americans say that the presidential election had the greatest effect on their financial decisions. Another 12 percent of people say the real estate and housing market had the greatest influence on their financial decisions in 2012.
- According to the survey, the most uncomfortable topic for Americans to discuss with their family members this season at the holiday dinner table would be the cost of healthcare expenses for aging family members (28 percent), followed by the amount of money spent on holiday gifts (14 percent) and saving or paying for college (13 percent).
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