Most Americans expect their finances to be looking up in 2018, according to a new survey. But they also admit to having some work to do in the upcoming year.
According to a year-end survey from LendingTree, the parent company of MagnifyMoney, 67% of Americans believe their finances will be either “somewhat better” or “much better” in 2018. Only 8% thought their finances would worsen.
Younger respondents were more optimistic. Seventy-nine percent of millennials look forward to an improvement in their financial situation in 2018, more than the 55% of those over 50.
Worrying about surprises
When LendingTree asked what people's top financial concerns were this year, costly surprises easily topped the list. Forty-three percent said they worried about unexpected expenses. And one in three (34%) said they were worried about making ends meet.
Health care costs (the survey didn't distinguish between health care premiums and other out-of-pocket medical costs) worried 29% of those asked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, older Americans were more concerned with medical expenses than millennials. Forty percent of those over 50 were concerned about health care costs this year; only 22% of millennials have such worries.
Credit card and other debt top financial priorities
Interestingly, the majority of respondents would use an unexpected windfall to straighten up their household balance sheets. Thirty-six percent said that if they unexpectedly received $10,000, they would pay off debt (either credit card, mortgage or other types), while another 14% would invest that money. Eight percent would drive the money into retirement savings. Only 18% said they would either spend on themselves or dote on their family.
Where optimism reigns
But even without the hypothetical windfall, most Americans appear to be looking forward to straightening out their finances. When LendingTree asked what they were most optimistic about financially, 31% volunteered paying off their debts, while another 27% said they were confident that they would be able to control spending in 2018. Indeed, the factors that people had less direct control over – like home prices or financial market performance – weren’t a point of optimism for many.
LendingTree surveyed 1,025 adults in December 2017 for the survey.
MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.