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Financial Optimism On The Rise: How Americans Plan To Spend And Stash Cash In 2013

Stocks in this article: AXP

More Americans (39% vs. 35% in 2012) say they are financially “optimistic” going into 2013, while 10% (vs. 6%) report they are “unconcerned,” according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. In the New Year, consumers hope to save more, but don’t plan to hold on to their wallets too tightly. More people (26% vs. 22% in 2012) plan to boost spending on leisure travel and many hope to spend more on clothes and accessories (28% vs. 23% last year) home redecoration (24% vs. 23%), dinners out (19% vs. 14%) and entertainment (19% vs. 14%). Big ticket purchases include buying a car (26%), house (8%), major household appliance (17%) and undergoing significant home renovations (11%).

Surveyed at the end of December, consumers reported the uptick in optimism and planned spending increases despite pending uncertainty of the Fiscal Cliff negotiations. Seventy-four percent of Americans (87% among affluents) said they were aware of the Fiscal Cliff, and 59% (64% among Affluents) expected the outcome to affect them personally.

Financial Priorities in 2013: The Year to Stash Cash

But while more expect to spend more, Americans still named saving money (57%) as a top intention for 2013, along with spending more time with family/friends (51%) and upping their exercise routine (42%). However, when the survey zoomed in on financial goals, they indicated a shift from last year’s priorities. More consumers say finding a job or finding a better job (19% vs. 14% in 2012) is their top financial goal, while last year the top spot was significantly reducing or paying off debt—now number two on the priority list (17% vs. 19%).

Last year, consumers saved an average of $5,906, $1,727 shy of their $7,633 goal. Going into 2013, consumers raised the bar, setting this year’s savings goal at an average of $10,893. Affluents are raising it even higher, expecting to save $22,660 in 2013 (vs. $14,445 in 2012). More Americans (89% vs. 82% in 2012) have a strategy to reach their 2013 savings goal, including saving from primary income (51%), 2012 tax returns (26%) and paring back on little luxuries like morning lattes and manicures (23%). Taking optimism one step further 21% of Americans hope to win the lottery.

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