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Americans Spend Paychecks Too Quickly

This is only one surprising fact from a survey of 7,200 Americans conducted by Intuit’s Quicken Financial Network (http://www.quicken.com), a comprehensive personal finance Web site, and Money Talks (http://www.talks.com), an on-line personal investment e-zine. Among the other startling discoveries in this first-of-a-kind survey, assuming the general population mirrors that of the 7,210 who responded on the Internet:

— 32 percent (2,307) have simply stopped saving altogether
— 20 percent (1,442) routinely get overdue notices from creditors
— 17 percent (1,225) of respondents don’t have enough money to pay their
taxes
— 10 percent (721) ask family, friends or colleagues for loans
— 4 percent (288) declared personal bankruptcy in the past year
“Like so many other issues in recent years, personal debt and bankruptcy have ‘come out of the closet’ and Americans are not only willing to talk about it as evidenced by the tremendous number of respondents to the poll, but they are also looking to be educated and informed,” observed Nancy Dunnan, a personal finance writer and columnist for Money Talks. “Despite their awareness of the issue, however, many Americans are struggling to break what has become an uncontrollable cycle of spending beyond their means. For me, the most alarming finding was that one-third have stopped saving altogether and, perhaps, given up hope. That tells me they feel discouraged and out-of- control, and believe that saving even $10-a-week just won’t put a dent in their debt.”
The survey was undertaken to determine why so many Americans are falling into debt. Last year, for example, over 1 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute — a 25 percent increase over 1995. The poll was conducted simultaneously on the two sponsor’s web sites: http://www.quicken.com< and http://www.talks.com, from April 30th through May 16th. At the same time, QFN introduced its free Debt Reduction Planner that people could link to straight from the survey.

“We developed the Debt Reduction Planner on QFN in response to the growing debt crisis and the needs of our customers. We’re hoping that the survey results combined with the chat session on Tuesday night will increase awareness about the solutions and resources that are readily available to help consumers,” said Christy Bulkeley, product manager for the Quicken Financial Network Web site. “There are several things that consumers can do today to make the first steps toward being debt free, such as establishing a budget and an action plan.”

Other Key Findings

Other important results from the 12-question survey include:

— Six percent (432) don’t know their total credit card debt
— Ten percent (721) don’t know their total monthly payments
— Fourteen percent (1,009) don’t know the interest rate on their credit
cards
— Nine percent (648) get cash advances from one credit card to pay off
debt on another
— Nine percent (648) post-date personal checks so they won’t bounce
— Six percent (432) borrow for regular, everyday essentials such as
groceries, clothing and gasoline for their car
Chat Session Tuesday Night
QFN and Money Talks will host an on-line chat session to discuss and analyze the results Tuesday evening, May 20th at 11 p.m. EST on the Money Whiz personal finance site on AOL (keyword MoneyWhiz). The session will be hosted by Christy Bulkeley of QFN and Nancy Dunnan of Money Talks who will answer users’ questions about personal debt as well as provide debt-busting alternatives.

Respondent Demographics

Eighty-one percent (5,840) of the survey respondents were male. “That statistic really surprised me and runs counter to both the number of women who routinely ‘surf the net’ as well as the emergence of the Beardstown Ladies and other groups of women who have bonded together to improve their personal finances,” noted Dunnan.

The largest majority of respondents (49 percent, or 3,532) were in the 33 to 49-year-old age bracket, and most respondents (42 percent of 3,028) had household income brackets ranging from $26,000 to $40,000 per annum. “The salary range tells me that we’re dealing with people who, despite their limited discretionary incomes, think enough of the computer to have purchased one and who see sites like QFN and Money Talks as their only real source of personal finance advice.”

Interactive Connection, Inc. (IC), the creator of the technology behind the survey, have been specializing in real time and dynamic technology since 1993. Based in New York, IC has created 130 Web sites for some of the nation’s finest companies. QFN and Money Talks chose two sites produced by IC and NY Times Syndicate to help promote the survey, Computer News Daily and Your Health Daily.

The e-zine Money Talks prides itself on its editorial excellence. With columns updated continuously, the site offers savvy insight, advice and timely topics written by a seasoned staff, some of whom were formerly with The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

QFN, one of the top personal finance Web sites, is developed by Intuit, a financial software and web-based services company. Intuit’s products and services enable individuals, small businesses and financial professionals to better manage their financial lives and businesses.

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