Consumers: 2011 was better, hopeful for 2012


A new survey from found that while consumers found the year 2011 to be challenging financially, it still was better than the years directly before it. But the best result was the finding that almost half expect their own financial fortunes to improve in 2012.

According to the survey, 48% expect improved finances; 37% said they don’t think finances will be any better and 16% weren’t sure. The survey was conducted for CouponCabin by Harris Interactive.

“While 2011 was a better year than the few years before it, many people still faced a lot of financial challenges over the past 12 months,” said Jackie Warrick, President and Chief Savings Officer at “The good news is that many are looking ahead to 2012 through positive eyes and are optimistic about what the future holds for their finances. Even if some are uncertain about the upcoming new year, many will take the lessons they’ve learned over the past few years and apply them to improve their situations down the road.”

The top consumer financial actions for 2012 include the following:
77%: Cut back on unnecessary expenses
62%: Cut back on extras (eating out, movies, etc.)
54%: Stick to a budget
54%: Use coupons
40%: Pay down debt
21%: Invest (stocks, mutual funds etc.)
8%: See a financial advisor
7%: Open a savings account

CouponCabin also asked if consumers in the survey had any financially-related New Year’s resolutions.
Here is what it characterized as a random sampling of responses:
* Accelerate paying off my debt.
* Be less wasteful when buying groceries.
* Buy store brands instead of name brands to save money.
* Try to get promoted.
* Get on track with making student loan payments.
* Save for a down payment on a house.
* Increase my retirement savings.
* Move to a more affordable apartment.
* Pay my credit card balance off each month.
* Plan shopping trips well to save gas and time.
* Cut back on unnecessary purchases of clothes, shoes and handbags.
* Use more coupons when shopping.

RBR-TVBR observation: At some point, as has been noted in song lyrics, we will have been down so long that the bottom will look like up. This survey contains welcome indications of improving consumer sentiment.
But the fact that most are still approaching personal finance from a defensive posture unfortunately argues against a sudden increase in discretionary consumption that would really drive economic growth.