Economic downturn forces young consumers to rethink debt strategies

Economic downturn forces young consumers to rethink debt strategies A number of recent polls have found that younger consumers say they will be more conscientious about improving their finances in the coming year than their older counterparts, according to U.S. World and News report. For instance, a recent Fidelity Investments poll found that about half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 made a New Year's resolution related to their finances, compared with just 30 percent of those over the age of 55. Nearly 60 percent of young consumers were also more likely to be interested in setting up a financial plan than those between the ages of 35 and 64 (39 percent) or retirees 65 and older (16 percent).

Further, the poll found that 65 percent of those in their 20s and 30s want to start saving more money, while only 38 percent of those between 35 and 54 responded similarly, the report said.

In addition, a large percentage retirees have little or no interest in altering their finances for the better in 2011, the report said. A survey by Principal Financial Group found that 47 percent of retirees don't intend to change their financial plans in the new year, compared to 29 percent of those currently in the workforce. Among the workers who did indicate that they had a resolution, the most popular was a desire to reduce credit card debt totals and increase savings. However, retirees who wanted to improve their finances said they simply wanted to reduce their monthly spending.

Meanwhile, consumers across all age groups believe they will have a better time with their finances and debt in 2011 than they did in 2010, though young people remain more optimistic, the report said. A recent Gallup poll found that 69 percent of those between 18 and 34 believe this year will be better, while only 51 percent of those 55 or older felt the same way.

Many consumers have already drastically altered their attitudes toward credit card debt, and are now using debit and cash to make everyday purchases more often. In addition, those who do use their credit cards are making a greater effort to pay off their outstanding debt every month rather than let it carry from one to the next.