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Americans Spend 4 Times Longer on Social Media Than on Their Finances

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While most Americans are aware they should spend more time creating household budgets and tracking their money, they’re more likely to be scrolling on social media.

A new survey from TIAA on financial technology habits reveals that half of Americans spend less than an hour a week on their finances — but more than four hours on social media.

Despite this acknowledgment, 1 in 3 respondents say their household finances have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, while 42% say they need to keep a more careful watch on their finances.

Social media influence bleeds into finances

Beyond helping Americans decide which detergent brand to use and where to dine, social media also impacts financial decisions. According to TIAA, a third of respondents say they find social media content trustworthy, and 32% trust advice from social media influencers and financial celebrities.

When it comes to what digital sources Americans lean on the most to make financial choices, 19% say they most frequently turn to online tools provided by financial service providers. Meanwhile, 11% report relying on content culled from social media.

Millennials spend the most time managing their money

It turns out that the generation known for being phone zombies is also the group paying closest attention to their finances.

Among survey respondents who spend at least four hours a week managing their money, 39% of millennials (ages 24 to 39) top the list, followed by 30% of Gen Zers (ages 18 to 23). As for Gen Xers (ages 40 to 55), 25% spend more than four hours tending to personal money matters, while only 7% of baby boomers (ages 56 and older) do so.

When it comes to getting a financial wellness checkup, more than half of the 65-and-under set say they’d be interested, versus 30% of those older than 65. Interestingly enough, the most preferred method to meet for a financial wellness checkup is face to face (26%).

By gender, men are nearly twice more likely than women to stay on top of their financial housekeeping (30% versus 16%).

A shift in financial wellness and money habits

Younger folks are more likely to have changed the way they handle money during the pandemic. In fact, 71% of those younger than 65 have made tweaks, versus 51% of those older than 65. These changes include:

  • Using a debit or credit card more to make purchases (27%)
  • Using automated bill pay (17%)
  • Using contactless payment systems on smartphones (16%)
  • Paying bills by tapping into bank or credit union features (16%)
  • Downloading a money management app (12%)
  • Setting up a virtual call with a financial advisor (9%)

For those interested in improving their credit card finances, it’s important to make on-time payments and pay balances in full when possible.

Consumers struggling to stay on top of ongoing expenses can consider debt consolidation. Moving several credit card balances onto a single loan could help you get lower interest rates and simplify your finances.

Methodology: Global strategic research firm KRC Research fielded an online survey for New York-based TIAA, conducted Feb. 1-9, 2021, of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 or older.


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