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Amidst another wave of layoffs, a new Quicken survey uncovers what is driving Americans' personal finance decisions

Majority of Americans say living within your means, maintaining a high credit score, and owning a home are key to achieving financial success

Quicken, maker of the best-selling personal finance software, today shared findings from a survey that uncovered the advice driving Americans' personal finance decisions. The survey found that 80% of Americans have regrets regarding their financial choices – namely not maintaining a big enough emergency fund and not investing more aggressively. These regrets are more acute when faced during a period of unstable income, as is the case for many Americans impacted by the fresh surge of layoffs across sectors like tech, media, logistics, and finance.

Quicken's recent survey revealed that nearly half (48%) of Americans don't have enough money to last three months if they were to lose their source of income. With the threat of layoffs looming, it's more important than ever for Americans to prioritize their finances and make savvy decisions.

More than half of Americans (54%) say that good financial advice has helped them manage their budgets in the past, but some financial advice does more harm than good – with nearly one in five (17%) Americans saying they've been given poor advice that hurt them financially. Quicken parsed out the advice that has made the most significant impact in Americans' lives.

Live within your means

Americans overwhelmingly agreed that the most important financial decisions Americans can make, regardless of age, are living within your means and saving for retirement. Beyond these two principles, the next top financial recommendations differed based on the stage of life someone is in:

  • In your 20/30s: Establish your credit
  • Once you're in your 40/50s: Stay out of debt from purchases
  • Those in your 60/70s: Make sure you'll have a source of income through retirement

Establish credit and maintain a high credit score

Nearly all Americans (85%) say it's important to maintain a high credit score. It's never too soon to start building credit, with 70% of Americans saying it's important to have credit cards early in your life. Be advised that getting started is the easy part, as credit cards must be well managed in order to positively contribute to your finances. That's why most Americans (81%) say it's important to pay off your credit cards rather than carry a balance. This advice can be hard to follow – as evidenced by nearly half (45%) of Americans reporting that they typically carry a credit card balance.

Buy a home, when you can

Three in four (75%) Americans say owning a home is a great way to build your net worth. But digging a layer deeper, most Americans note that there are a lot of tricks to managing your mortgage effectively. Some of the tips that rose to the top:

  • 69% of Americans say buying a fixer-upper is a smart financial move if you're handy
  • 68% of Americans say putting down a large down payment on a home is better than taking a large mortgage
  • 64% of Americans say it's best to pay off a home mortgage as quickly as possible to get out of debt
  • 60% of Americans say refinancing your mortgage whenever rates decline is a good idea in order to save money

"Financial decisions are inherently personal – it's important to balance best practices with each life stage, current state of the economy, and your financial standing," said Kristen Dillard, vice president of product and head of Quicken Simplifi. "Historically we see an increased interest in personal financial management at the start of each year, with more people than ever turning to Quicken Simplifi for support this year. By understanding their entire financial picture, consumers can thoughtfully grow their money and ensure financial security."

Looking ahead, economic reports show that job and wage growth are strong. Additionally, a drop in inflation is expected to open the door for interest rate cuts later in the year. These financial tailwinds might be just what Americans need to take steps that fuel their financial wellness.

Quicken is designed to help you prioritize your financial health. To learn more, visit:

Methodology: Quicken conducted this research using an online survey prepared by Method Research and distributed by PureSpectrum among n=1,008 adults (age 18-77) in the United States. The sample was equally split between gender, with a spread of age groups, household income, and geographies represented. Data was collected from November 5 to November 14, 2023.

About Quicken Inc.
Quicken is the best-selling personal finance software in the U.S. For over 40 years, more than 20 million customers have relied on Quicken to help them take control of their finances and lead healthier financial lives. Quicken's award-winning suite of personal finance software and apps includes Quicken Classic Deluxe, Quicken Classic Premier, Quicken Classic Business & Personal, and Quicken Simplifi, recognized by PCMag as the Editors' Choice winner for personal finance apps.

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Annuity Alliance is not affiliated with Quicken. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be used to make a buying decision. If you would like to speak with a financial professional, please use Annuity Alliance’s contact form.