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American Workers Feeling More Financially Fit Going into this Holiday Season

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American workers are feeling more financially healthy than they did a year ago, according new research from the Principal Financial Group(R). The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM: American Workers, found that 46 percent of workers surveyed between October and November of this year consider themselves financially healthy, up 18 percent from last quarter.

With their perceived financial health improving, 33 percent of workers say paying down debt is their top money management priority, while 24 percent say saving for retirement is their top goal. Additionally, a majority of workers (65 percent) planned to give back this holiday season with either charitable donations or volunteer work.

The study also found that while workers’ economic outlook remains mixed, overall sentiment has decidedly improved. Down from 57 percent last year, just 47 percent of workers view the U.S. economy as unhealthy, while 26 percent view the economy as healthy, up from 17 percent last year.

“Coming into the holiday season, it’s encouraging to see workers are feeling better about their financial health,” said Luke Vandermillen, vice president with The Principal(R). “We’re especially happy to see increased confidence resulting in paying off debts as well as saving for retirement. However, the fact that Americans are looking to give back to those less fortunate is certainly the most heart-warming finding from this quarter’s survey.”

The Principal Financial Well-Being Index: American Workers surveyed more than 1,110 American workers working at small to mid-sized business across geographies and demographics. The Index is part of a series of quarterly studies commissioned by The Principal Knowledge Center examining the financial well-being of American workers, business owners and advisor opinions and practice management. The survey is conducted online by Harris Poll(R).

Holiday Spending
When it comes to holiday spending, three in five workers (61 percent) surveyed plan on spending the same amount they did last holiday season. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they will spend $500 or less on the holidays this year. Half of workers (51 percent) also indicate they plan on setting a budget this holiday season as a means to better manage their money, while three in ten (29 percent) say they save for holiday gifts throughout the year.

“While this is a great time for getting together with family and loved ones, there is certainly stress that comes with affording gifts, travel and other expenses during the holiday season. We are glad to see the majority of American workers are taking actions to stay within a well-planned budget to avoid taking on increased debt during the holiday frenzy,” added Vandermillen.

Workers Not Sweating The Holiday Stress
As the financial outlook remains positive, Americans seem to be stressing less over the financial burden this holiday season. Two in five workers (41 percent, up from 33 percent in 2013) indicated that spending will put no stress on their financial situation. Half of workers (51 percent) believe that holiday spending will put a moderate amount of stress on their financial situation, down from 58 percent last year. Only nine percent of workers surveyed believe this holiday season will put a great deal of stress on their financial situation.

2015 Resolutions
As workers look to 2015, financial resolutions remain strong. Top resolutions for the coming year include:

  • paying off credit card debt (28 percent),
  • saving a set amount of money on a monthly basis (24 percent),
  • reducing monthly spending (20 percent).

However, 35 percent (up from 28 percent last year) said they do not plan on making a financial resolution for 2015. Many of workers’ top concerns from last year’s survey noticeable decreased in this year’s study. Healthcare costs (52 percent, down 10 percent), food prices (45 percent, down 13 percent from last year) and economic uncertainty (42 percent, down 21 percent from last year) all showed significant declines as top concerns for workers.

For more research, analysis and insights, visit The Principal Knowledge Center and connect with us on Twitter.

About The Harris Poll
Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Contact us for more information.

About the Principal Financial Group
The Principal Financial Group(R) (The Principal(R))1 is a global investment management leader offering retirement services, insurance solutions and asset management. The Principal offers businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement, asset management and insurance through its diverse family of financial services companies. Founded in 1879 and a member of the FORTUNE 500(R), the Principal Financial Group has $513.5 billion in assets under management2 and serves some 19.5 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG. For more information, visit www.principal.com.

1 “The Principal Financial Group” and “The Principal” are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.
2 As of Sept. 30, 2014.

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