Friday AM April 30th, 2010

America’s financial behaviors and attitudes have changed with the impact of today’s economy, according to a Harris Interactive study. Ed Mayberry reports.

Piggy bank The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants says 46 percent have been able to save money over the past year.  But that means more than half have not been able to save any of their income.  The accountant group’s Susan Howe says it’s caused people to adjust their lifestyles and become pro-active about money management.

“The primary thing a lot of people are doing is just really cutting back on discretionary spending.  I think the economic conditions over the last couple of years have really caused a lot of people to step back and re-evaluate what they’re doing, financially, and the result is that half are saving.  A lot of households are still in distress at this point, you know, either one of more people unemployed or under-employed.  Hopefully, as the economy picks up a little bit, people will really go back to being able to save at a maximal level.”  

Howe says recent changes, such as required pay-off disclosures by credit card companies, have opened the eyes of a lot of people.

“The greater transparencies that the credit card companies are, you know, now forced to do–how long it can take to pay off your credit card if you only make the minimum payment–has really been an education for a lot of people.  I don’t think that these were things that were getting enough focus before.  People are focused on this, and so it’s an opportunity to get the message across.  But it’s also been painful for most people, economically, and so like anything else, it has challenges and opportunities.”  

After the economy recovers, nine out of ten saving Americans plan to save the same amount or even more than they are now.

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