From September 2013 to January 2014 the second America Saves Personal Savings Index declined 9% on interest in personal saving, 6% saving effort made and 3% in the "perceived effectiveness of saving" measure.
There is, however, an obvious discrepancy between rationale and actual behavior.
Consistently and the same as in the September 2013 survey, 65% of participants indicate they have a greater interest in personal savings but only 58% appear to actually make a saving effort and only 56% perceive their saving habits as effective.
Furthermore, in September up to 71% expressed greater interest in saving, compared to 65% in January. Similarly, 62% made an effort compared to 58% in January, while effectiveness dropped from 58% to 56%.
Data, based on responses from more than 1,000 Americans asked to rate their behavior on a 10-point scale, represent various demographic factors including gender, age, ethnicity and education indicate the most influential factor is income.
Lower-income Americans, "who face the greatest challenge paying for holiday-related expenses," experienced the largest overall declines, notes Stephen Brobeck, executive director and a founder of CFA's America Saves, while upper-income Americans, who were the greatest beneficiaries of rising stock and housing prices, saw increases in saving effectiveness.
“Both recovery from the post-holiday financial hangover and continued increases in asset values appear to explain much of the changes,” he adds.
In the past four months the one-quarter of households with incomes below $25,000 "reported significant declines" in all three measures: interest declined from 65% to 52%, effort 52% to 45% and effectiveness 46% to 40%.
Brobeck described these declines as "recovering from holiday spending demands,” while they tend to pay bills and debts, "not building savings.”
Upper-income households reported "somewhat greater saving effectiveness" from 64% to 66% in January for those with incomes of $75,000 to $100,000, and 69% to 70% for those with incomes over $100,000, mainly due to "rising stock and housing prices" that appear to have offset holiday spending concerns, he added.
America Saves research-based campaigns and events organized in cooperation with more than 1,000 national, state and local organizations "use the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing" to help change behavior, says Nancy Register, director of America Saves and associate director of CFA, these "sobering findings," however, come during tax time, when Americans are most likely to assess their finances.