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Americans Are Developing Pandemic-Driven Financial Habits

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While the U.S. unemployment rate remains high and the wealth gap continues to widen, a silver lining during the COVID-19 pandemic could be that many Americans have indicated they developed positive financial habits that may stick around post-crisis.

A survey conducted by self-service, coin-counting company Coinstar revealed that — should life return to normal in 2021 — nearly half (46%) of respondents plan to spend less, while only 18% intend to treat themselves or others. Further, 76% have a household budget, and nearly 3 in 4 (74%) are likely to squirrel away funds for a rainy day, separate from their savings.

How money habits are changing — and where they are headed

Besides actively budgeting and saving, survey respondents revealed they were more vigilant about where their money was going. In fact:

  • 78% are optimistic about staying on budget
  • 61% plan to tweak their budgets moving forward
  • 46% intend to spend less

Respondents expressed other ways they intend to be more proactive about their finances. Among those who said they plan to take steps to better position themselves for financial wellness in 2021:

  • 43% will cut back on discretionary spending
  • 31% will sell personal items
  • 27% will take on another job
Noteworthy: Of respondents most likely to use cryptocurrency, 53% would consider it as a financial investment.

Americans turn to streaming services, food to make life easier

While respondents have been spending less as a whole, there are some areas they have been doling out a bit more cash to make pandemic life more convenient and enjoyable:

  • 34% have spent more on streaming services
  • 30% get restaurant takeout or delivery
  • 23% have spent more on home improvements

Non-traditional “below-the-waist” work attire has become the norm, so many expressed they will once again spend money on belts, shoes, pants, skirts and more.

Easing back to life, post-pandemic: Vacations and get-togethers

“Less is more” and “it’s the simple things in life that matter the most” can ring true. As Americans have endured more than a year of social distancing protocols and quarantining, they are looking forward once again to relishing the small things. Respondents who limited socializing and normal routines and behaviors during the pandemic are eager to:

  • Go on vacation (53%)
  • Spend in-person time with friends and family (48%)
  • Enjoy in-restaurant dining (44%)
  • Host a get-together at home (27%)

While consumers are looking to tighten their wallets, they are willing to spend more on:

  • Dining out (47%)
  • Vacations (47%)
  • Self-care (27%)
  • Below-the-waist apparel (20%)

Having a budget and keeping an eye on your spending can help you avoid going into credit card debt and hurting your credit score.

Methodology: Bellevue, Wash.-based Coinstar commissioned Atomik Research to field an online survey of 1,006 U.S. adults, conducted March 8-9, 2021.