Survey: Nearly 70% of Americans Celebrated Financial Wins in 2021

With Christmas Day now practically upon us, it seems many Americans have already received a different type of gift this year. According to a survey of 2,050 U.S. consumers, nearly 70% reported celebrating a financial achievement this year. Topping the list of the most common money win was a tie between paying off credit card debt and growing savings, each with 9%. Those were followed closely by “bought a car,” “paid off other debt,” and “made significant progress toward paying off debt,” which were each accomplished by 8% of respondents. Other noteworthy achievements included beginning to invest (or increasing investment), getting a raise, buying a home, increasing retirement savings, paying off student loans, and paying off mortgages.

Interestingly, those of younger generations were more likely to have financial accomplishments than older ones. In fact, 81% of Gen Zers and 80% of Millennials said they have something to celebrate compared to 58% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. The top achievements also varied among these younger generations, with 13% of Zoomers buying a car and another 13% growing their savings. Meanwhile, 13% of Millennials paid off credit card debt with 10% starting to invest.

Alas, despite the fiscal wins many Americans enjoyed, several noted financial regrets this year as well. In total, 78% of respondents expressed regrets, with one-quarter stating that they didn’t save enough money in general. Other popular responses included “spending above my means” (17%), “racking up credit card debt” (15%), “not saving enough for retirement” (14%), “paying bills late” (13)%, and “spending too much on dining out” (12%). As for other notable and intriguing mistakes, 10% admitted lending money to the wrong person, 5% reported making bad investments, 3% failed to negotiate their salary, and another 3% tapped retirement savings too early.

Lastly, when asked the question if they were better off financially today than they were in 2020, respondents were fairly split. While 42% stated that their financial lives haven’t changed over the past year, 35% noted that they were better off in December 2020 than they are today. In contrast, 24% said their finances improved during that timeframe.

Commenting on the survey’s results, MagnifyMoney senior content director Ismat Mangla first noted the impacts of the ongoing pandemic, explaining, “The pandemic has affected people in different ways financially. For some Americans, it’s been devastating…others have been able to save more than ever.”

Additionally, Mangla offered an assessment of why debt payoff was a big factor in the survey’s findings, stating, “Debt is stressful, and so many Americans have some kind of debt. It can feel like you can’t do anything about your big financial goals, like saving for retirement or buying a house, until your debt is paid off.” Looking ahead to the new year, Mangla went on to say, “The best thing you can do is to be honest about where you stand. You can’t reach your goals if you don’t first understand where you are in relation to them.”

As we move from Christmas to the New Year, it’s safe to assume that many consumers will be making financial-based resolutions. Thus, it’s encouraging to see that such a significant number of Americans were able to accomplish important money goals in 2021. In the face of current setbacks, here’s hoping that similar wins can be claimed throughout 2022 and every year after.

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Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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