Personal Savings Interest, Effort, and Effectiveness Rebounds from May Lows to New Highs in September

Contact: Katie Bryan, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 202-939-1018

Washington, D.C. – The interest, effort, and effectiveness of Americans to save personally, as measured by the triannual Personal Savings Index (PSI) surveys of America Saves, jumped substantially from May lows to new highs in September.

During this latest trimester, savings interest rose from 63 to 75 percent, effort from 58 to 65 percent, and effectiveness from 55 to 62 percent. The September numbers are the highest recorded in the seven triannual surveys conducted to date, as the table below shows.

Table 1:  PSI Percentages in Last Seven Trimesters

Date Interest Effort Effectiveness
Sep-13 71% 62% 58%
Jan-14 65 58 56
May-14 71 63 58
Sep-14 71 62 60
Jan-15 70 61 59
May-15 63 58 55
Sep-15 75 65 62

“While no trends over the past two years are yet evident, it is encouraging that the latest Personal Savings Index numbers are so high,” noted Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America and a founder of America Saves.

The extent to which various factors including perception of one’s own financial condition and that of the whole economy, as well as one’s actual income and ability to save, affect the PSI numbers is unclear. However, the PSI surveys clearly show that income is critically important: In general, the higher one’s income, the higher one’s savings interest, effort, and effectiveness, as the table below shows.

Table 2:  PSI Percentages for September 2015 by Household Income

Income Interest Effort Effectiveness
Under $25k 68% 58% 55%
$25k-$50k 77 65 63
$50k-$75k 72 67 58
$75k-$100k 78 69 62
Over $100k 84 76 71

“Our surveys are consistent with other research showing that those with low incomes are more likely to struggle financially in the present, and be less likely to focus on saving for the future, than are those with high incomes,” noted CFA’s Brobeck.

The surveys are undertaken for America Saves by ORC International, which surveys a representational sample of 1,000 adult Americans by cell phone and landline. The latest ORCI interviews were between September 10 and 13. Respondents were asked to respond to the three questions about interest, effort, and effectiveness on a 10-point scale ranging from “no interest” to “very great interest,” and these responses were converted into percentages. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points. 

America Saves, a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. The research-based campaign uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to change behavior. Nonprofit, government, and corporate groups participate in America Saves nationally and through local, regional, and statewide campaigns around the country. America Saves encourages individuals and families to take the America Saves pledge and organizations to promote savings year-round and during America Saves Week. Learn more at americasaves.org and americasavesweek.org.

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