In response to the recession, consumers have regrouped and are doing the best they can to rebuild their financial foundations.
That's one of the findings from "Trends in Consumer Financial Issues Q1 2010" from research firm Financial Finesse Inc. Consumers are showing signs of improved cash management and financial responsibility. Reactive, event-driven calls, such as "how do I make ends meet," are being replaced with proactive, goal-driven calls, such as "how do I create a spending plan."
Financial Finesse's research is compiled by tracking calls through its financial service helpline, which is available to more than 500,000 employees from more than 300 organizations.
For the past few quarters, the firm said it has watched as employees' financial situations have continued to slowly improve. Debt related calls continue to hover around the 20% level, with more questions about how to reduce debt as opposed to calls about what to do if a person is falling behind on debt. Budgeting and savings calls returned to their first quarter 2009 levels, a sign that consumers may be more confident in how well they are managing their cash, according to Financial Finesse.
The biggest indication of improvement came in the form of increased calls about retirement planning. For the first quarter, retirement planning calls reached 19%, compared to 13% for the first quarter of 2009. So far this year, there has been a nearly a 50% increase in interest in retirement planning over this time last year, the data showed.