Savings driving American optimism about financial future

Americans are optimistic not only about their current financial situations but also about their prospects heading into 2020, a new report shows.

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A study conducted by Fidelity Investments found that more than 80 percent of Americans said they were feeling either the same or better about their financial situation when compared with last year. The highest percentage of Millennials — 46 percent — reported feeling better when compared with other generations.

Meanwhile, nearly 80 percent of respondents thought they would be even better off financially in 2020.

The optimism comes despite ongoing economic uncertainty, derived in part from ongoing trade tensions and rumbles about a potential looming recession. Maura Cassidy, Fidelity Investments vice president of retirement and small business products, told FOX Business that Americans were positive because they were taking action on things they could control.

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The study showed, for example, that the top reason Americans were feeling optimistic is that they were saving more money.

“They talked about things that were in their control as opposed to market conditions,” Cassidy said. “I think there have been some really good small steps people are taking and they are taking them for their own self-care, peace of mind.”

Interestingly, Americans said they were most financially motivated by “living a debt-free life,” which Cassidy said is a good thing because it indicates that people are realizing how debt can negatively impact their financial situations.

Student loan debt, for example, is near $1.6 trillion in the United States.

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Still, the top concern for Americans of all ages was unexpected expenses. More than one-quarter of Americans said they would need to borrow or sell something to pay for an unexpected expense of $400, according to research from the Federal Reserve. About 12 percent of people said they would not be able to cover the expense at all.

On the bright side, Cassidy said that people are looking ahead to 2020 as an opportunity to build up their emergency savings. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they planned to do so, according to the survey.

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For people who have made and kept their financial resolutions, Cassidy noted they tended to stick by some simple advice, including setting clear and realistic goals, setting small milestones, keeping track of progress and celebrating progress made.