Poll: 66% of Americans don’t see their personal finances increasing next year

From the highest inflation in four decades to an abrupt end this year to the lowest borrowing costs ever, Americans’ finances have not been easy in 2022 — and most don’t expect their wallets to feel better in the new year.

About 2 in 3 Americans (or 66%) don’t expect their personal finances to improve in 2023, according to a new Bankrate poll. This total includes 36% who expect their financial situation to stay about the same, as well as 29% who expect their finances to deteriorate. Just over 1 in 3 Americans (34%) expect their personal financial situation to improve in the New Year.

The results highlight the tough economic outlook next year, as experts warn of a growing likelihood of a recession amid rapid rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. High inflation on basic necessities such as gasoline, housing and food is also eating away at Americans’ purchasing power.

Inflation is high and there is not much optimism that it will come down significantly. Even among those who expect their finances to improve in 2023, only 19% believe this will be due to lower inflation.

—Greg McBride, CFABankrate Chief Financial Analyst

Key points to remember

  • More than one in three Americans (or 34%) expect their finances to improve in 2023, compared to 29% who expect their finances to deteriorate and 36% who see their financial situation remaining at roughly the same.
  • The majority of Americans who say their finances will not improve next year (63%) say continued high inflation will be to blame.
  • More than 2 in 5 Americans who expect financial improvement in the next year (or 41%) say earning more money at work will help them, followed by 30% who believe they have less debt and 25% who attribute a change in life circumstances.
  • Paying down debt, budgeting better and saving more money for emergencies are among Americans’ top financial goals for 2023.

Americans were more or less concerned about their personal finances heading into 2023. Of the 29% who expect their finances to deteriorate in the new year, 18% see their finances deteriorating somewhat, while 11% are preparing for their finances to deteriorate significantly.

This was also true for Americans who expected an improvement. The 34% who expect their finances to improve include 10% who expect their finances to improve significantly and 24% who expect them to improve a little.

White Americans are more than twice as likely as Black Americans to expect their finances to deteriorate next year (at 32% and 15%, respectively), while 27% of Hispanic Americans expect their portfolio deteriorates. Meanwhile, 51% of black Americans expect improvement compared to 30% of white Americans and 37% of Hispanic Americans.

Nearly half of those earning $100,000 or more a year expect an improvement next year (at 46%), compared to 35% of those earning between $80,000 and $99,999, 28% of those earning between $50,000 and $79,999 and 35% of those earning less than $50,000.

Younger generations were also more optimistic about their financial prospects next year, with 48% of Gen Z (those aged 18-25) and Millennials (26-41) expecting their finances improve in 2023, compared to 28% of Gen Xers (42-57) and 22% of Baby Boomers (58-76).

Americans who don’t expect their finances to improve next year are overwhelmingly pointing the finger at inflation.

More than 3 in 5 people (or 63%) say continued high inflation will be the reason their finances don’t improve, more than any other category, including:

  • The work of elected officials (29%);
  • Stagnant wages or reduced income (27%); and
  • Change in interest rates (25%).

Meanwhile, 18% each say the amount of debt they have or the amount they get from their savings or investments will be what will hold them back. 16% blame a change in life circumstances, along with 12% who say they don’t know why they don’t expect their finances to improve and 8% who blame something else.

Inflation was the main reason these Americans do not expect to see financial improvement next year across all demographic and socioeconomic categories, although some indicated more concern about price pressures than others, especially older Americans. Two in three Gen Xers and Baby Boomers (66% and 73%, respectively) attributed inflation to the problems they expected next year, compared to 38% of Gen Z and 55% of Generation Y.

Fed research shows that inflation often hits older generations harder because they are more likely to be nearing the end of their careers or living on a fixed income. Younger generations were also more likely than their older counterparts to say their wages kept pace with inflation in another September Bankrate poll.

Even if inflation comes down next year, households don’t expect that to help them much. Only 19% of those who expect better days for their portfolio in 2023 say lower levels of inflation will help them.

Instead, the most important reason for these gains is:

  • Earn more money at work (41%);
  • Have less debt (30%);
  • A change in life circumstances, such as family or health (25%); and
  • Earn more money on their retirement savings and investments (24%).

A further 5% say they don’t know why they expect their finances to improve next year, while 9% cited something else.

More often than not, Americans have a specific set of financial goals for 2023, even if high inflation makes it harder to budget and save.

The main objectives include:

  • Repay debt (19%);
  • better budget expenditures (16%);
  • Save more for emergencies (13%);
  • Save more for retirement (9%);

Many Americans also prioritize finding a better paying job (8%), saving for a non-essential purchase like a vacation or big ticket item (7%), buying a new house (5%) or to invest more money (5 percent).

Paying down debt and budgeting better were the top two goals for all Americans except for the highest income households, whose top two goals were paying down debt (17%) and saving more for retirement (16%).

“Americans’ financial goals reflect an expectation of tougher times ahead, with households focused on paying down debt, better budgeting and more savings for emergencies in 2023,” McBride said. “High inflation and rising interest rates are squeezing budgets as additional savings compiled during the pandemic dwindle, underscoring the course corrections Americans are seeking to make to their finances.”

Methodology

Bankrate.com has commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the investigation. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 3,656 American adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from November 15-18, 2022. The survey was conducted online and met rigorous quality standards. It used a non-probability sample using the two upstream quotas during collection, and then a downstream weighting system designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.

Leave a Comment