"Further, there are so many legitimate needs for which we should save: retirement, college, down-payment on a house or car, a vacation -- not to mention the rainy day fund. The savvy consumer will examine the needs specific to his family and prepare for them. Once he puts a pencil to it, 10 percent may be enough or it may fall far short, but he needs to understand that making sacrifices in the short-term will pay huge long-range benefits.
|America's savings aspirations|
"In my 22 years in this business, I've never spoken with anyone who said they'd saved too much," says Cunningham.
Optimistic self appraisals
We asked hypothetical behavioral questions to see if people believe they are spenders or savers. The majority of Americans perceive themselves as savers:
- 66 percent would skip going on vacation one year rather than put it on a credit card or finance it in some other way.
- 90 percent would keep an older car that runs fine and is paid for, rather than finance a new one.
- 78 percent would save up for major home improvements, rather than take out a loan to do them.
"These answers sound more well-intentioned than actual," says Cunningham. "It'd be interesting to follow up in a year and see if the respondents are all driving old cars, took no vacations and are living in homes in need of improvements."
Savings is often more palatable if it can be goal specific, she adds. "In other words, if you know you're saving for a new car, it's easier to save. Even if you deny yourself an occasional vacation, cars are going to need replacing and home repairs are going to have to be made. Therefore, the wise consumer will acknowledge this and begin earmarking money toward those needs."
Interestingly, those earning more than $50,000 are more willing to make sacrifices than their lower-income brethren. For example, those earning $50,000-plus say they are more likely to skip going on vacation (74 percent vs. 62 percent) and drive an older car (95 percent vs. 89 percent) to avoid debt.
However, those earning less than $50,000 are much more likely to sacrifice home improvements until they have enough money saved rather than take out a loan to pay for them (81 percent vs. 73 percent for higher earners).
|-- Posted: March 17, 2008|