Reflecting on 2016 and the main issues that kept them up at night, most respondents cited the election outcome as their top worry – above terrorism, identity theft or stagnant wages. Furthermore, the presidential election was 2016’s most worrisome topic for respondents both before (53%) and after (47%) the outcome was decided.
According to the 8th annual New Year’s Resolution Survey by Allianz Life Insurance this positive financial outlook prompted them to want to take action and get their financial house in order, either on their own or with the help of a financial professional.
According to the survey, 42% of Americans reported being more stressed in 2016 than in 2015, an increase from last year when only 36% reported being more stressed heading into the new year.
In contrast, when asked how the respondents thought the election results will affect finances after the results were in, the majority had a positive or neutral outlook (55%). Nearly one third (32%) were optimistic that they will make money in the near future and 23% believed their finances will not be impacted at all by the election outcome. The rest of the respondents reported a negative outlook – 24% were pessimistic, thinking they will probably lose money in the near future and 21% were terrified the market will crash leading to another great recession.
Perhaps in response to an optimistic financial outlook, more respondents claimed they would seek professional help with their finances. Nearly one in three (29%) of those surveyed claimed they would be more likely to seek advice from a financial professional in 2017, the highest percentage in the study’s history (the lowest percentage of respondents open to seeking financial advice was 19% in 2013).
Respondents also chose financial professional (25%) as the top professional they would access if they could do so for free, ahead of nutritionist/dietician (23%), personal trainer (15%), lawyer (14%) or therapist (14%).
Given that many Americans could seek help with their finances in 2017, it may be no surprise that they admit to having a variety of bad financial habits. The top bad financial habit for 2016 was “spending too much money on things I don’t need” (30%), followed by “saving some, but not as much as I could” (23%) and “not saving any money” (23%). “Spending too much” also topped the list of bad financial habits in 2015.
To improve these bad financial habits, the highest number of respondents (20%) said they wanted to build an emergency fund. Additional improvements included paying off credit cards, increasing retirement savings and building a budget.
Implementing financial improvements in 2017 may also support the most common New Year’s Resolution – getting healthier. Beyond finances, overall wellness was top of mind for many as they look ahead to the New Year. When asked about focus areas in 2017, Americans ranked health/wellness first (45%) followed by financial stability (30%) and career/employment (12%). Respondents were most likely to keep these resolutions by “exercising/dieting more” and “managing money better/saving more.”