Survey also reveals that social factors influence saving and that spending habits, as well as lack of income, are barriers to saving
For Immediate Release: Feb. 9, 2017
WASHINGTON -- A survey earlier this year of 1,313 individuals who have taken the America Saves Pledge reveals that it helped a large majority start or continue to save.
Nearly two-fifths (39 percent) said that taking the Pledge was “the main factor for me starting to save more.” Nearly one-fifth of respondents (18 percent) indicated that, while they had already started to save, taking the Pledge “improved your success at saving.” For more than one-quarter (28 percent), taking the Pledge “helped you maintain the success you were already having.”
For more than a decade, the America Saves campaign has been encouraging individuals, especially those having difficulty saving, to take the Pledge. Over 500,000 people have done so. These Savers have pledged to “save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time.” Each has identified a savings goal, a monthly saving amount, and a time period to meet their goal.
“Saving more effectively requires not only recognizing a financial need but also making a commitment,” said Nancy Register, America Saves Director. “This independent survey suggests that pledging to save specific amounts contributes to successful saving.”
When they took the pledge, only 30 percent of respondents said they were saving on a regular basis. Only 17 percent of those in households with incomes under $50,000 were doing so.
Low Incomes Not Only Barrier to Saving
When asked about “the biggest challenge to your ability to save money,” over half (52 percent) identified “unexpected expenses.” Around two-fifths (41 percent) said they “don’t earn enough money.” Yet, roughly the same number identified bad spending habits as a big challenge: More than two-fifths (42 percent) cited “spending on non-essential items” while nearly one-third (30 percent) indicated “habits that are hard to break.”
Much research on personal saving has proven that low incomes are not the only barrier to saving. This survey shows that many individuals are aware that they need to spend money more carefully so they can afford to save more.
Social Factors As Well As Financial Ones Motivate Saving
The most important general goal of Savers was financial – saving more money (79 percent), improving their financial well-being (63 percent), and getting out of debt (42 percent). But social factors were also important for some respondents. Twenty-eight percent said they decided to take the Pledge to be a good role model for children, family members, and/or friends.
“Saving more effectively has social as well as financial benefits,” said Register. “Savers can take pride that they are setting a good example for loved ones, which may encourage their saving.”
Decreased Income Can Spur Saving
Predictably, a number of respondents reported that increases in income from changes in “family circumstances” or employment were a major influence in their decision to save more. Yet counter-intuitively, a significant number, 30 percent, said that decreases in their income because of changes in family circumstances or employment were a major reason they decided to save more.
“Decreases in income may spur savings because people are reminded that they are more vulnerable to unexpected expenses,” said Register.
The survey was conducted in October 2016 by Artemis Strategy Group (www.ArtemisSG.com), a communications strategy research firm specializing in brand positioning and policy issues. The firm, headquartered in Washington, D.C., provides communications research and consulting to a range of public and private sector clients. Respondents were at least 23 years of age.
America Saves, a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, motivates, encourages, and supports 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. Non‐profit, government, and corporate groups participate in America Saves nationally and through local, regional, and statewide campaigns around the country. America Saves encourages individuals to take the America Saves pledge and organizations to promote savings year-round and during America Saves Week.