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Not so Merry and Bright: MassMutual Quarterly Survey finds Americans’ Confidence in their Financial Futures Low ahead of Festive Season

60% of Americans with student loan debt are worried about defaulting on their loans

While Americans may be feeling less jolly about their financial futures, the latest Consumer Spending & Saving Index from MassMutual indicates they are still planning to deck the halls, as economic anxiety has not dampened their holiday spending plans.

“Student loan payments are still playing the Grinch this holiday season, and many Americans are wisely making lifestyle changes to pay off their debt while planning to spend thoughtfully,” stated Paul LaPiana, CFP, head of MassMutual brand, product and affiliated distribution. “It is crucial to recognize that challenging times require more thoughtful financial planning, and this is a good moment in the year to reflect on what’s ahead. Make a list and check it twice: prioritizing savings, reducing debt, and diversifying investments can help people safeguard their financial well-being and protect their loved ones.”

Notable survey findings:

STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENTS: Three months after the federal student loan payment pause ended, 3 in 5 impacted individuals are worried about defaulting on their loans and over one third do not expect to fully pay their loans off before they retire.

  • A staggering 76% of respondents with student loan debt say the resumption of student loan payments has had a negative impact on their day-to-day financial health.
  • Over a quarter (27%) of impacted individuals reported having monthly student loan payments of $300-$749, with 19% having monthly payments of $750 or higher.
  • Most reduced their overall spending to make their payments with 44% cutting back on luxuries and 37% not purchasing essentials.

MACROENVIRONMENT: People are more preoccupied with macroeconomic events that could impact their finances compared to just three months ago. Interestingly, there is a generational divide over what macroeconomic issue will impact Americans’ finances the most.

  • Nearly all respondents are concerned with inflation, and 4 in 5 are now worried about a potential recession and the 2024 U.S. presidential election.
  • With the U.S. Presidential election a year away, older generations are significantly more concerned about the U.S political climate compared to the previous quarter. Younger generations either maintained or lessened their level of concern over the U.S. political climate.
  • Amidst sticky inflation and aggressive Federal Reserve interest rate policies, younger generations are more likely to be preoccupied with the impact of interest rate increases on their finances than older Americans.

HOLIDAY CHEER: Intriguingly, Americans’ anxiety over their financial futures has not notably dampened their holiday cheer compared to last year.

  • Half plan to cover the cost of this holiday season with money they have set aside, up from 44% last year.
  • Despite nearly 1 in 5 voicing regret about their holiday spending last year, gift giving intention is not decreasing; the most common gift purchases planned are cash/gift cards, clothes and homemade/sentimental gifts.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: Feeling the effects of inflation and high interest rates, many younger Americans are planning to make a financial resolution for 2024, with more than half hoping to save more and make more money.

  • Over a third of survey respondents plan to make a financial resolution for 2024, which is higher than for 2023 and primarily reflects younger generations’ intentions compared to Baby Boomers and The Silent Generation.
  • Nearly one quarter of survey respondents have followed financial advice shared on social media, up from 17% last quarter, an increase led by Gen Z.


The MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index tracks financial outlooks and behaviors in a changing economic environment. It offers an in-depth snapshot of people’s saving and spending behaviors and examines sentiment and attitudes toward navigating the changing state of the economy with an emphasis on inflation, spending and changes in interest rates. Commissioned by MassMutual, the research was conducted online by PSB Insights from October 19 to November 2, 2023, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults (ages 18+). Research was also conducted with an additional sample of 500 adult Massachusetts residents from October 19 to November 7, 2023.

Annuity Alliance is not affiliated with MassMutual. 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.