As 2023 winds down, Americans are casting an uneasy eye toward the future. A new survey of 1,000 Americans revealed that 39% say they’ve gone deeper into debt this year, and fewer than half say they have enough money to live comfortably.
Looking ahead, it would be an understatement to say many are deeply concerned about how their personal finances will fare in 2024.
To learn more about how consumers feel about the future, Clever Real Estate surveyed 1,000 Americans about their financial goals for 2024. Here are 10 of the most common goals for the upcoming year.
1. Cutting back is still number one
Starting in the same place as the previous year doesn't always feel great, but in 2024, the top financial goal in the study is to spend less money — the same as in 2023. Some respondents in the study couldn’t quite get a handle on their wallets, but many blamed systemic factors like inflation and rising interest rates for their overspending.
That’s not to say they did not take responsibility for buying a few too many lattes. Just under half of people surveyed admitted they had made poor financial choices (and recommitted to doing better in 2024).
2. It’s time to tighten up the budget
With the holidays approaching and consumer spending continuing to rise, many people plan to tighten their belts after the first of the year. With dwindling savings and stagnant wages, there’s a sense of urgency in 2024, with 41% of people in Clever’s study making this one of their top financial priorities.
3. Saving for a rainy day is increasingly important
The financial clouds building on the horizon have made Americans even more concerned about how they’ll weather the storm. That’s why building emergency savings is top-of-mind for one-third of Americans. People expect prices to rise in 2024, and many worry that they are just one month away from financial ruin if they lose their jobs.
4. Retirement is looming large
The group closest to retirement will also likely need more money to retire. About 63% of baby boomers say they're not on track to have enough savings to retire. Among non-retired Americans, many are bracing for working more years than expected — about 23% say they won't be able to retire before they turn 80.
This grim response is why 30% of respondents are kicking it into high gear and planning to save more for retirement in 2024.
5. Reining in credit card debt is key
If your average paycheck isn’t covering rising cost of living expenses, you might start putting more purchases on your credit cards. This tactic has led to an unhappy milestone: Americans now carry $1 trillion in credit card debt.
That’s why 29% of people are focusing on paying down their debt in 2024. It’s going to be a challenge, with interest rates still rising and inflation moving very slowly in the right direction. But combined with reducing daily expenditures and cutting back on holiday shopping, many feel it’s a goal that’s attainable in 2024.
6. Investing is the way to go
One way Americans are planning their financial future is through investments. About 27% of people surveyed set their eyes on investing more in 2024. In addition to traditional stocks, many people are looking toward investments in real estate to help boost their portfolios. This long-term strategy for building (or restoring) wealth may signal a return of cautious optimism in some financial sectors.
7. Switching jobs is an option
Facing inflation and growing credit card debt, about 20% of Americans plan to look for a higher-paying job to get them out of the hole in 2024. This might mean selling a house and relocating for higher wages, but workers are up for it if that leads to less stress.
8. Dependents are finally moving out
The number of people over 18 who are financially dependent on someone else exploded during the pandemic as housing became expensive and scarce. In many cases, it was not mismanagement of personal finances that was the issue.
As a result, many young adults still depend on their parents for financial support, including nearly half of Gen Z and about one-third of millennials. Overall, 18% of Americans say they want to become financially independent in 2024.
9. People want to bloom where they’re planted
Although 20% of people in the U.S. plan to look for a higher-paying job in 2024, 17% just want a raise where they are right now. Keeping their current position can lend stability in a tumultuous financial landscape, and many people are committed to making it work — for just a bit of a pay bump.
10. When it comes to housing, there’s cautious optimism
Now is one of the most challenging times to buy a house, especially for the first time, but 16% of survey respondents have made home-buying a goal for 2024. Buying a home in a competitive market can be tricky, but some young buyers are optimistic. About 58% of people in the survey feel they will be on better financial footing by the end of 2024, which might be contributing to the drive to buy a new home.
Bonus: People are serious about student debt
Student loan debt has been in the news — and on the minds of the 43.6 million borrowers who are still paying off their degrees. The pandemic offered a reprieve on payments, but with the moratorium ending and payments picking back up in October, about 10% of survey respondents are making it a priority to pay off student loans in 2024.
This article was first published on Clever Real Estate.