Fewer Americans delaying life events for financial reasons

And fewer are improving their financial habits.

Fewer Americans reported putting off major life decisions, such as buying a house or retiring, compared with three years ago.

According to a survey of 1,014 U.S. adults conducted on behalf of the AICPA by Harris Poll, 35% of Americans said they had delayed making a major life decision within the last year for financial reasons. In a similar survey conducted in 2015, 51% of Americans reported delaying major life decisions.

Fewer respondents also said they had delayed certain life events for financial reasons than did so in 2015. For example, 14% said they delayed buying a home in the past year, down from 22% in 2015.

"The economy is robust, and unemployment rates are lower than we've seen them in several years," said Susan A. Speirs, CPA, CGMA, a member of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. "Many surveys indicate that Americans across all demographic groups are saving more and feel more confident in their finances."

Of the respondents who said they had delayed a decision for financial reasons, 60% said they did so due to a lack of savings, the same percentage as in 2015.

Anemic savings accounts are a common financial woe, Speirs said. Other reasons respondents chose to delay major decisions included concerns about the economy — a reason that 38% chose in 2018, compared to 50% in 2015.

Compared with 2015, though, the number of Americans who said they have made positive changes to their financial habits has actually declined.

Three years ago, 85% of respondents said they had made positive changes to their financial behavior since the recession, such as following a monthly budget, using credit cards less often, and increasing contributions to savings, emergency funds, and retirement plans.

In 2018, 68% of respondents said they had taken similar steps.

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