Americans Cite Obstacles to Savings Goals

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker finds that consumers’ savings goal for the year has decreased since the beginning of the year, down to an average $12,000 from $14,000 in January. 

To date, consumers report having saved 25% of their savings goal over the first six months of the year.   

According to a press release, for the 51% of consumers who say they are behind on their 2010 savings goal, the key reasons cited are: 

  • Increase in cost of non-discretionary bills such as utilities, groceries and auto (58%); 
  • Unanticipated emergencies (30%);  
  • Difficulty balancing wants versus needs (20%);  
  • Buying on impulse (20%); and 
  • Spending outside their means (17%).  

Other obstacles include lack of strategy and planning (16%), not tracking cash purchases (13%), spending on life events such as weddings and babies (12%), and pressure to keep up with others’ lifestyles (5%). More Americans say they have been focused on paying down debt (46%) than saving (29%) this year, and 57% of consumers with debt have been moving forward with a specific plan to reduce or stabilize their debt. More than a third (38%) of the general population reported decreasing their debt over the last six months, as have 52% of affluent respondents and 46% of young professionals.  

In a mid-year financial check-up, 75% of Americans say their debt has not increased over the past six months, with more than a third (38%) reporting that their debt has actually decreased.  Thirty-four percent of respondents expect to spend less in the next six months than they have so far this year, with 50% doing so primarily to save money, 44% to maintain a budget, and 33% to reduce debt. Only 29% reported reduced income as their motivation, and 8% claimed anxiety over potential job loss.  

For access to American Express Spending & Saving Tracker results, visit