48% of Americans Expect Their Finances to Improve This Year

48% of Americans Expect Their Finances to Improve This Year

More Black and Latino consumers are taking steps to improve financial prospects
Optimistic young adults

As consumers begin looking forward to life after the COVID-19 pandemic, many are seeking to boost their current financial situation, and most are optimistic about what’s ahead.

Chase's Financial Health Consumer Survey found that almost half (48%) of U.S. consumers believe their finances will improve this year, while nearly a third reported having already adopted better spending and saving habits.

Consumers prioritize adding to savings and reducing debt

According to the Chase survey, 37% of Americans saw a decline in their financial health over the last year, with 16% of them experiencing a job loss, furlough or loss of income. As a result, a majority of respondents said they had used or would use their economic relief checks (or "stimulus checks") to help make ends meet.

Overall, those surveyed said their economic relief payments would be used to ...

  • Pay bills (53%)
  • Put money toward savings (36%)
  • Pay down debt (30%)
  • Pay rent or mortgage (22%)
  • Put money toward a 'nice to have,' like entertainment (10%)
  • Donate to a cause (7%)

Although 83% of respondents said they considered saving for long-term finances and emergencies to be important, only 76% were confident in their ability to do so. Even fewer (62%) felt confident in their ability to save for retirement.

The findings compare with an earlier survey from credit and identity security firm ScoreSense, which reported that 63% of Americans were happy with their financial emergency plans, but that more than 25% of those who lost their jobs during the pandemic were unable to make up the income and had been forced to live off of their savings.

But despite these economic challenges, the Chase survey suggested hard times weren’t stopping consumers from trying to shore up their finances for the future. Specific goals included …

  • Improving savings (51%)
  • Eliminating debt (39%)

Separately, Chase reported that 32% of respondents said developing or maintaining a budget would be a primary goal this year.

Black and Latino consumers report greater optimism toward their finances

The survey also focused on the financial well-being of Black and Latino respondents, as these communities were among the hardest hit during the pandemic. For instance, recent data has shown a persistent racial gap in savings.

The Chase survey showed over a third of Black (34%) and Latino (36%) respondents said that if they lost their job, they wouldn't be able to support themselves on savings, However, both groups were also more upbeat on improvement in the near future.

Specifically, Black (54%) and Latino (49%) respondents were a little more optimistic about their finances for 2021 than was the general population (48%). This could be partly due to the steps Black and Latino consumers have already taken to improve their financial health, such as:

  • Starting a new business or side hustle in the last year (21% of Black respondents and 19% of Latino respondents did so, versus 11% of the general population)
  • Starting a business this year (16% of Black respondents and 14% of Latino respondents did so, versus 9% of the general population)
  • Improving their credit (24% of Black and Latino respondents did so, versus 19% of the general population)

Methodology: Chase and Morning Consult conducted an online survey of over 5,000 American consumers, as well an oversample of Black and Latino consumers, between Feb. 12-26, 2021.

Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, and the resulting data was weighted based on age, educational attainment, gender and race.

Feli Oliveros is a finance and business writer with experience covering personal finance, small business finance, and payment processing. In 2015 she graduated from UCLA, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and minored in Anthropology.