This past year was a financial reckoning of sorts for many Americans, as it forced millions to take a hard look at their finances and see what they needed to improve on.
But as the economy opens up again, some may wonder if responsible financial habits picked up during the crisis will persist in a post-pandemic world. A new survey from coin counting company Coinstar suggests that this newfound frugality is here to stay.
About 7 in 10 American adults reported that, in addition to regularly putting money away in their savings (70%), they are also maintaining a household budget (76%) and an emergency fund (74%).
Americans adjust saving and spending habits amid COVID-19 pandemic
After a year where millions of Americans worried about their financial well-being, Coinstar's survey found that many respondents are now making more decisions with their finances in mind.
In addition to maintaining their savings accounts and household budget, another 61% plan to adjust their budget moving forward — an especially important action to take as spending habits change after the pandemic.
And because of the extra time they've spent on nurturing their finances, almost 8 in 10 Americans (78%) are optimistic about staying on budget. They're better prepared for whatever comes next, too: According to credit and identity security firm ScoreSense, 63% of consumers are satisfied with their plans for the next financial emergency that comes their way.
Of course, most people haven't completely cut out discretionary spending over the past year, either. Coinstar found that many splurged on little comforts to make stay-at-home orders much more bearable, including:
- Streaming services (34%)
- Food delivery (30%)
- Home improvements (23%)
Home renovations and repairs were especially popular among homeowners, as a separate survey from home insurance company Hippo revealed that two-thirds of them spent over $1,000 on these updates.
Consumers plan to exercise caution with post-pandemic spending
As retailers and restaurants open up their doors again, the Coinstar survey indicated that consumers are looking forward to opening their wallets as well. In particular, respondents anticipate spending money on:
- Dining out (47%)
- Vacations (47%)
- Self-care (27%)
Interestingly, 20% of respondents are also looking to spend more on clothing worn below the waist — "pants, skirts, shoes and belts" — perhaps acknowledging an eventual return to in-person business and leisure, rather than the shoulder-up online video communication of the pandemic era.
Those that stayed inside for the greater part of the year are also excited to take in the experiences they missed out during the health crisis, including:
- Going on a vacation (53%)
- Seeing family and friends (48%)
- Dining in a restaurant (44%)
- Hosting home get-togethers (27%)
However, Coinstar's findings show that most people don't plan on spending more than they can afford this time around. Almost half of respondents (46%) plan on actively spending less, and only 18% report that they plan on treating themselves and others after the pandemic ends.
In addition, those wanting to improve their financial situation even further in 2021 plan on doing so in a variety of ways. Some of these actions include:
- Cutting back on discretionary spending (43%)
- Selling personal items (31%)
- Taking on an additional job (27%)
Methodology: Coinstar and market research firm Atomik Research conducted an online survey of 1,006 American adults on March 8 and March 9, 2021.