Most Americans do not expect financial improvement in 2022, survey finds
And more than half said inflation is biggest barrier to better finances next year
About two-thirds of U.S. adults recently surveyed by Bankrate said they do not expect their financial situation to improve in 2022.
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The survey, which gathered responses from 2,450 U.S. adults, found 46% of respondents expect their financial situation will stay the same in 2022 and 26% believe their finances will get worse. Of the 26%, about 18% say their financial situation will get somewhat worse, while 8% believe it will get significantly worse, according to the survey's findings.
About 54% of respondents cited inflation as the biggest barrier to better finances in 2022, including 70% among those expecting their financial situation to get worse and 44% of those expecting their financial situation to stay the same. In November, the consumer price index rose 6.8% year over year, the fastest increase since June 1982.
Meanwhile, one-third of those not expecting financial improvement cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including 37% of those expecting worse finances and 31% expecting the same financial situation. Other reasons cited include life circumstances (23%), stagnant or declining wages (23%), the amount of debt (18%), changing interest rates (17%) and the amount of money made on savings and investments (15%).
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In comparison, one-third of U.S. adults expect financial improvement in 2022, including 9% who believe their finances will get significantly better and 23% who say they will get somewhat better.
Top reasons cited for the potential improvement include making more money at work (46%), having less debt (36%), making more money on savings and investments (27%), a change in life circumstances such as health or family (24%) and the continued resolution or end of the pandemic (20%).
While just 14% of those expecting their finances to improve in 2022 credit the political leaders in Washington, 57% of those expecting their finances to get worse and 25% of those expecting their finances to remain the same lay the blame on political leaders.
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Meanwhile, the main financial goal for U.S. adults in the new year is to pay down their debt. Saving for emergencies (14%), budget spending better (13%) and saving for retirement were also some top financial goals listed by survey respondents. Investing more money, getting a higher-paying job and buying a home also made the list.
Seventeen percent of respondents said they have no financial goals for 2022.
"Paying down debt before interest rates begin to rise is a prudent move and the most cited financial goal for 2022," said Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride. "Saving more for emergencies, budgeting spending better, and saving more for retirement are all markings that also appear on the pathway to financial security."