Nearly Half of Americans Say Their Financial Situation Improved in 2017

Another 40% say they reduced their debt during the year.

As 2017 draws to a close, a Fidelity Investments survey found that many Americans are in a better financial position than they were in 2016, with 47% saying they are in a better financial situation.

Forty percent say they have reduced their debt; only 11% report the opposite. Seventy-six percent believe they will be better off financially in 2018.

However, only 27% are making a financial resolution for 2018, down from a high point of 43% in 2014.

“Financial resolutions are on the decline because many people are feeling better about their personal financial situation and are generally optimistic about what 2018 will bring,” says Ken Hevert, senior vice president of retirement at Fidelity. “Even if you don’t feel a burning need to create a financial resolution, you can still resolve to identify financial areas needing improvement and make some smart financial moves before December 31.”

Among those who have set a financial resolution for 2018, 55% want to save more, 25% want to pay down debt, and 18% hope to spend less. Among the 47% who feel they are in a better financial position this year than in 2016, 66% attribute this to being able to save more. Among Millennials, this jumps to 78%, and 90% of Millennials believe they will be better off financially in 2018.

Top financial concerns for 2018 are unexpected expenses (57%), rising health care costs (53%) and anguish over the economy (50%).

Among those who have set a goal to save more in 2018, 54% have long-term goals, down from 62% in 2016, and 38% are focusing on the near term, up from 32% last year. Among all respondents, 43% plan to increase their retirement savings by one percent or more of their salary. For Millennials, 62% have this goal. In part due to recent natural disasters, 54% of all respondents plan to beef up their emergency savings.

Fifty-eight percent plan to increase their household charitable giving, up from 54% in 2014. Among Gen Xers, 64% plan to increase charitable giving. For Millennials, it is 63%, and Baby Boomers, 56%.

Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed say they feel financially stressed due to debt, expenses and saving. Conversely, 70% say setting financial goals helps alleviate financial stress.

ORC International conducted the telephone survey of 2,059 adults for Fidelity in October.