Poll Finds Only One-Third of Americans Have A Budget

July 18, 2013  |  

Budgeting, a practice that requires financial discipline and restraint, is only used by one-third of Americans. Nearly 70 percent of the U.S. refrains from tracking their expenses to control their personal finances, according to Daily Finance.

Only 32 percent of Americans, a Gallup poll shows, have a monthly budget to keep an eye on their income and expenditures. A measly 30 percent “have a long-term financial plan laying out savings and investment goals,” reports Daily Finance. The rest of America simply spends on whim.

Men and women with higher incomes or college degrees were more likely to say they have a budget. Only about 25 percent of respondents with a high school diploma track and control their expenses.

This is a completely different picture from 2010 when 48 percent of Americans claimed to use a budget, according to the Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends. The reason behind the decline in budgeting may be “the strain of the recession” or new banking technology which allows customers to make withdrawals more often, Gallup concludes. Perhaps people have gotten too comfortable during the economic recovery?

The Gallup poll also found that Americans are more likely to use an online program or computer software to manage their finances than an actual accountant (32 percent vs. 24 percent). This is a shift from 10 years ago when more Americans used financial planners than technology to handle their personal finances.

The reasons for not having a budget are likely bad. “They don’t want to know the reality of it. It is the definition of denial, “says Eddie Reece, a financial psychotherapist. “If you want to make a significant change, all you have to do is get an honest [budget]. Track every penny for three to six months.”

This Gallup poll was based on 1,012 adults over the age of 18 across all 50 U.S. states.

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