Despite history of breaking resolutions, data suggests people are hopeful and motivated this year
MENLO PARK, Calif. -- Feb. 11, 2020 -- Six weeks into the new year, 62% of Americans will have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions, according to research released today by Quicken, maker of America’s best-selling personal finance software. By the end of the first quarter, 86% will have bailed.
“Nearly half of respondents highlighted money as one of their top three sources of stress, and many made resolutions to spend less or save more,” Quicken CEO Eric Dunn noted. “Even though 93% of respondents say they have failed to keep a resolution in the past, most are willing to try again, telling us that people are looking for ways to improve themselves and their lives.”
Why we fail
Reasons for breaking resolutions are pedestrian, with “got too busy” (44%), “tried to do too much all at once” (41%) and “lost interest” (40%) at the top of the list.
- Millennials and Gen X are most likely to say they got too busy (50% and 43%, respectively, vs. 38% of boomers) while boomers are more likely to lose interest (43%, vs. 41% of millennials and 36% of Gen X) or not see enough progress (37%, vs. 33% of millennials and 34% of Gen X).
- Asked who or what they blame for failing to keep their resolutions, 83% of respondents said “myself.” Women (86%) were slightly more likely to blame themselves than men (81%). Boomers (91%) were more likely to blame themselves than millennials (80%) and Gen X (81%).
Follow the money
After health, self-care, and skill-related resolutions, one of the most common goals for 2020 is to spend less and save more. But achieving a goal like that is complicated because money is such a source of stress and discord — across all demographics.
- Money is a “top-three” source of stress: 70% of women vs. 69% of men; 73% of millennials vs. 72% of Gen X and 60% of boomers.
- Money is the #1 source of stress: 24% of women vs. 20% of men; 26% of Gen X vs. 22% of millennials and 15% of boomers.
More than a third (35%) of all Americans say money is the top thing they fight about with their partner and is the number one reason for arguments among millennial couples. It’s also one of the top reasons for Gen X and boomers, along with “annoying habits.”
Among money topics, spending is the top bone of contention for 61% and becomes even more of an issue later in life.
- 59% of millennials, 60% of Gen X and 66% of boomers
- 64% of men vs. 57% of women
Saving comes in second at 43% and is more of an issue earlier on.
- 56% of millennials vs. 40% of Gen X and 24% of boomers
At 35% overall, credit card debt is an issue across the board but looms larger for Gen X (42%) and boomers (34%) than millennials (29%). Other topics of concern are:
- Planning for bills 32%
- 38% of women vs. 28% of men
- Giving gifts 14%
- 18% of men vs. 9% of women
- Student loan debt 11%
- 14% of men vs. 7% of women
- 19% of millennials vs. 7% of Gen X and 5% of boomers
What we’d give up
People differ greatly in what they’d be willing to give up in exchange for reaching their financial goals. Millennials are willing to give up most things at higher rates than other groups, but Gen X is the most willing to give up alcohol (38% vs. 24% of millennials and 19% of boomers) while boomers are most willing to give up takeout meal delivery (58% vs. 52% of Gen X & 53% of millennials). Here’s how some of the overall numbers break down on what we’d be willing to go without:
- Takeout/meal delivery 54%
- Online shopping 43%
- Sweets 32%
- 37% men; 25% women
- 39% millennials; 27% Gen X; 26% boomers
- Alcohol 28%
- 38% men; 15% women
- 24% millennials; 38% Gen X; 19% boomers
- Gym membership/fitness classes 12%
- 17% men; 5% women
- 16% millennials; 10% Gen X; 7% boomers
- Smartphone 11%
- 17% men; 3% women
- 18% millennials; 5% Gen X; 7% boomers
Hope and motivation
Despite the challenges, the new year is a time of hope and motivation for most, outweighing frustration and pessimism. When asked, “Looking at the new year, how do you feel?”, respondents said:
- Hopeful 33%
- 26% millennials; 36% Gen X; 42% boomers
- Motivated 29%
- 31% millennials; 30% Gen X; 26% boomers
- Frustrated 13%
- 12% millennials; 16% Gen X; 10% boomers
- Pessimistic 6%
- 5% millennials & Gen X; 8% boomers
This hope drives action: nearly two-thirds of respondents report spending money in an effort to keep their resolutions, and 84% noted they would turn to an app if they knew it had helped others keep theirs.
“Money is clearly a source of stress and frustration for a lot of people, but it’s encouraging that overall people are looking at the New Year so positively,” Dunn commented. “The important thing is that even if you’ve already slipped a bit, there’s still time to refocus and make progress toward your financial goals in 2020.”
Quicken is the #1 personal finance software in the US. For over 30 years, customers have relied on Quicken to manage all their finances, so they can lead healthy financial lives. In 2016, Quicken, formerly part of Intuit, became an independent company. Its desktop and cloud product suite includes a family of products that cater to different financial needs and device preferences — Quicken Starter Edition, Quicken Deluxe, Quicken Premier, and Quicken Home & Business, all of which can sync with Quicken’s website and mobile apps — and now Simplifi for mobile and web. Simplifi was built to help a new generation of mobile-first customers easily stay on top of their finances. Over 17 million people have used a Quicken product to manage their finances. Learn more at www.quicken.com.
Methodology: This SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted in December 2019, with a sample of more than 1,000 people, age 22 to 72, in the U.S. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. You can find full results here.