According to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, 39 percent of Americans say they are financially “optimistic” beginning 2013, while another 10 percent are “unconcerned.” This increased optimism (up from 35 percent and 6 percent respectively), means consumers plan to both save more and spend more in 2013 than they did in 2012.
The American Express survey showed an increase in all intended spending categories for 2013 over 2012 results, with the highest increases being on clothes and accessories, dinners out and entertainment. And while consumers plan to spend more in 2013, 57 percent also still list saving money as their top goal for the year.
In 2012, consumers saved an average $5,906 – or $1,727 shy of their $7,633 goal. For 2013, consumers hope to save an average of $10,893, using pre-planned strategies that include saving from primary income, using 2012 tax refunds and cutting back on luxuries. Affluent individuals are also raising their savings goals to $22,660 in 2013 from $14,445 in 2012.
Even with 51 percent of American consumers feeling optimistic, unconcerned or indulgent about finances going into 2013, the other half still feel frugal, frightened and pessimistic. The top specific financial goal of 2012 – significantly reducing or paying off debt – moved to second on the priority list as finding a job or finding a better job took the top spot for 2013.
Whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about your financial situation as we begin 2013, having financial goals and a plan in place to achieve those goals is important. You may wish to consult with a Certified Financial Planner for a review of your current financial situation and an evaluation of your goals, which can help make sure you have the right balance of saving and spending to keep you feeling confident about your finances this year.
For The Year – The S&P 500 was positive on a total return basis for nine of 12 months in calendar year 2012, gaining 16 percent for the year. The S&P 500 stock index has been positive on a total return basis in nine of the past 10 calendar years. The one down year that occurred since 2003 was a 37 percent tumble in 2008. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market (source: BTN Research).
NASDAQ Performance – The NASDAQ was up 17.5 percent in 2012 (total return). The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system (source: BTN Research).
The Long-Term Average – The S&P 500 stock index has gained an average of 9.8 percent per year (total return) over the past 50 years (i.e., the years 1963-2012). No single calendar year actually gained 9.8 percent in the last half century. The closest that any year came to the 9.8 percent historical average was in 1993 when the stock index gained 10.1 percent for the year (source: BTN Research).