Economic Outlook: Americans Will Still Spend for the Holidays

Economic Outlook: Americans Will Still Spend for the Holidays -Image via Wikipedia

While uncertain about their 2011 money matters, Americans are more upbeat about the current direction of their finances as the holidays near. A survey conducted for the December COUNTRY Financial Security Index® found 15 percent say their level of financial security is improving, up two points from October and the largest number of people to feel this way all year.

Further, there was a three-point rise to 38 percent in those rating their financial security positively. Yet, this increase was offset by a slip in those able to save and a decline in the ability of younger age groups to pay off debts. The result caused a 0.3 point dip to 64.4 in the December COUNTRY Index. The slight decline comes as Americans are split on how their finances will shake out next year. Thirty-three percent think 2011 will be the same for them financially as 2010, 29 percent believe it will be better and 27 percent expect it to be worse.

“The contradictory sentiments we saw this month could be attributed to Americans loosening their purse strings for the holiday season to spread some holiday cheer,” says Keith Brannan, vice president of Financial Security Planning for COUNTRY Financial. “With proper planning throughout the year, many can afford to spend during the holidays. It will be interesting, however, to see if people have learned from previous years and avoid the financial hangover that tends to come post-holiday.”

Younger age groups gearing up for holidays?

Headed into the holiday spending season, those ages 18-39 appear less confident by as much as 4 percent since October in their ability to repay debt. And, their ability to save money has dropped 5 percent from two months ago.

All Adults 18-29 years old 30-39 years old
Oct Dec Oct Dec Oct Dec
Set aside money for savings or investments in the last two months? 45% 44% 38% 33% 50% 45%
Confident in your ability to pay debts as they come due? 76% 76% 65% 61% 75% 74%

Men grow more confident

  • Nearly one-third (32 percent) of men, compared to 26 percent of women, expect 2011 to be better for them financially than 2010.
  • Sixty percent of men say they are confident they will be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement, up four points from October. In contrast, just half (50 percent) of women say the same, down three points this month.
  • Twenty-seven percent of men expect to receive a year-end bonus, while just 23 percent of women say the same.

2010 COUNTRY Index in Review

The COUNTRY Index on average achieved its lowest readings to date in 2010. It also experienced its largest single drop on record since the bi-monthly measure began in 2007 when it tumbled 3.2 points in February 2010.

  • 2010 Index Average: 64.2 (compared to 65.1 in 2009)
  • 2010 Index High: April (64.9)
  • 2010 Index Low: February (63.1)

Full data is available at

Individuals can learn more and compare their own results with the national COUNTRY Financial Security Index.  The next COUNTRY Financial Security Index will be released February 15, 2011 and subsequently every other month.

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index® is a bi-monthly measure of Americans’ sentiments toward their overall financial security.  It is an aggregate of various factors comprising financial security including savings and investments, financial planning, retirement, education and asset protection.

The COUNTRY Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm, based on a national telephone survey of at least 3,000 Americans.

The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.


COUNTRY Financial ( serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States.  It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.

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