54% of Adults Resolve to Improve Finances in 2022

54% of Adults Resolve to Improve Finances in 2022

Saving money and improving credit are amongst top financial goals
woman smiling because of improved finances

After a year of uncertainty, many people say they're determined to take control of their health and wellness.

In a new survey from CIT Bank, a U.S. division of First Citizens Bank, more than 2,000 adults shared their resolutions for 2022. When it comes to goals for the upcoming year, the majority of adults say they plan to prioritize their mental health, manage their weight, or make other strides toward personal wellness, and more than half say they've resolved to improve their finances.

New year, new financial goals

Fewer people made a resolution for 2022 than in past years, but those who did are focused on improving their well-being. In the CIT Bank survey, 54% of respondents said they want to improve their finances this year, with Gen Xers being even more likely to make a resolution related to money management (62%).

According to the survey, these are the most popular financial goals for 2022:

  • Save more money (77%)
  • Improve credit scores (48%)
  • Spend less money (48%)
  • Reduce debt (47%)
  • Invest more (43%)
  • Contribute to 401(k) and HSA plans (24%)

Amongst survey respondents who want to save more money, the biggest motivation is a practical one: to build an emergency fund (43%). According to a 2021 survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, workers had median savings of just $5,000 last year. And according to Fed data, many adults were unsure how they'd cover an unexpected expense as little as $400.

Those numbers fall desperately short of the oft-recommended three-to-six months worth of living expenses. But for those who can't reach that figure in the near future, starting with just $25 a month is a step in the right direction.

Other respondents who set a savings goal say they want to set the money aside for a variety of purposes, including travel (33%), to buy a car (25%) or purchase a home (23%), to go back to school (10%) or return to the office (8%) or to start a family (8%).

How do you make your resolution last?

According to a recent survey from Medifast, 47% of people break their resolution within one month, and only 10% of people upheld their goal for the full duration of 2021. The CIT Bank survey, however, yielded different results, with 90% reporting they kept on track "at least somewhat" with their goals for the full year.

How did respondents beat the odds in 2021? The following tactics helped survey respondents stick with their resolutions:

  • 52% used reminders, journaling and check-ins
  • 36% used monetary rewards
  • 33% used external motivation, like working with a friend who was keeping the same resolution

It's not surprising that this group had relative success in working toward their goals. In a recent poll of 2,500 health and wellness instructors, some of the top recommendations for achieving a goal included writing your goal down and making it visible (46%), as well as getting a friend or family member to commit to the habit with you (24%).

Almost half (49%) told CIT Bank they plan to make a purchase that will help them maintain their resolution. However, buying a new device or a subscription doesn't appear to increase sustainability of a goal, and may just serve to set individuals further back in their financial progress. Instead, experts' top recommendations include starting with a small and manageable goal (66%) and celebrating small wins as you go (44%).

Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of CIT from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, 2021, among 2,038 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The survey defines Generation X as people within the age range of 41 to 55.