Americans Are Saving Differently in 2014 than Past Years

Two financial surveys show that Americans feel they are in better financial health than previous years and are focused on saving for the short- and long-term future.

Americans have money on the mind in the New Year, according to two recent surveys. Specifically, they’re considering how to be in better financial shape by saving more, paying off debt and simply spending less.

In its first-ever “How America Buys and Borrows” survey, Wells Fargo concluded that Americans are focused on clearing up their credit health. Nearly 60% of Americans have checked their credit score or credit report within the past year.

Similarly, the fifth annual New Year Financial Resolutions Study by Fidelity Investments found 54% of Americans, a record number, made financial resolutions for the 2014 new year. Of those, over half of the resolutions were saving more, followed by paying off debt and spending less (26% and 19%, respectively).

“Making financial resolutions, such as saving more and paying off debt, can have a tremendous impact on the financial and emotional well-being of a household, so it’s encouraging to see that so many Americans intend to build a stronger financial foundation in the year ahead,” Ken Hevert, vice president of retirement products, Fidelity Investments, said in a statement.

Fidelity’s study also found that of those who said saving money was their biggest goal for 2014, there was a shift toward short-term goals — paying down credit card debt, building an emergency fund or saving for big-ticket purchases — over long-term goals like saving for retirement, college or retiree health care savings.

The Wells Fargo study revealed a generational gap in how Americans think about money. For example, Boomers and Generation Xers are more likely to say they actively reduce their debt (42% and 35%, respectively), while their Millennial counterparts admit they choose to focus on increasing their savings (35%).

Another highlight of the Wells Fargo study is that nearly a third of American homeowners indicate that, with the exception of a mortgage, they are living debt free. However, only 13% of responders feel that they have achieved their financial goals. Most rate their financial management knowledge as a “B” or a “C”, with only one in four naming themselves “financially savvy.”

“77 percent of Americans feel their financial situation is moderate to good — which is great news as we move ahead to 2014,” Gary Korotzer, executive vice president with Wells Fargo’s Consumer Credit Solutions Group, said in a statement.