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Consumers Shift Focus From Savings to Paying Down Debt

September 01, 2011

WASHINGTON — A poll hosted on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) Website found an overwhelming majority of consumers are more focused on paying downb debt that saving money.

The survey revealed that controlling debt has become paramount for consumers, with 89 percent of the 2,900 individuals polled indicating that they plan on paying down their debt rather than increasing their savings. Additionally, the study revealed that consumers are more inclined to use their debit card than credit when making new purchases.

“People often debate which is more important, to be debt free or to have a robust savings account, and the answer is both,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.  “As important as it is to handle debt responsibly, the truth of the matter is that the unplanned emergency is inevitable, and savvy consumers will recognize this and prepare for it.”  

Savings typically decline during good economic times as is evidenced by the rate of savings falling below 1 percent before the last recession took hold of the economy in December 2007, according to the NFCC. Even though the savings rate has recently climbed to about 5 percent, it is still less than the savings in some years past.

“In bad times, people save out of a fear of tomorrow, and in good times they spend as if there were no tomorrow,” Cunningham said.

The NFCC also noted another consumer trend. “Credit replaced savings as the family’s safety net, with some arguing that savings was unnecessary since they could charge or borrow their way out of any unplanned event,” Cunningham said. 

The August poll question and results are as follows:

Which is more important to you?

A. Paying down debt = 89%

B. Increasing savings = 11%

For more information, visit www.DebtAdvice.org.

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