Americans Optimistic About the Economy, Finances and the Future

Generations are united by optimism and strong desire to learn more money management skills in 2015

America's Outlook on the Economy: 74% feel the economy is stable or improving and 78% expect it to stay the same or improve in the future. (Graphic: Business Wire)

SAN FRANCISCO--()--Americans will ring in the new year feeling optimistic about the economy, their personal financial situation and the future of the economy, according to the second installment of the Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) “How America Buys and Borrows” survey.

More than three-quarters of Americans (78 percent) expect the economy to stay the same or improve and 81 percent believe their current personal situation is stable or improving. This optimism is reflected in similar levels across all generations, along with an overall desire to learn more about money management with fewer than half (43 percent) of respondents saying they know enough.

“Often when we talk about generations, we talk about how different they are,” said Gary Korotzer, executive vice president with Wells Fargo’s Consumer Credit Solutions group. “What we see in this survey is remarkably similar levels of optimism across the generations, led slightly by Millennials, and a united desire to continue learning how to be better money managers.”

When asked about their view on the current state of the economy, 79 percent of Millennials (ages 18 to 32) say it is stable to strong, which is in line with the 75 percent of Generation X (ages 33 to 48) and 70 percent of Boomers (ages 49 to 65) who say the same thing. In addition, when asked about their expectations for the future of the economy, 85 percent of Millennials expect it to stay the same or get better, which is similar to the 80 percent of Generation X and 74 percent of Boomers with the same perception.

When it comes to personal financial situations, 84 percent of Millennial respondents characterize theirs as stable to strong, similar to the 81 percent of Generation X and 78 percent of Boomers who say the same. Looking ahead, 94 percent of Millennials say they expect their personal financial situations to stay the same or get better with 92 percent of Generation X and 86 percent of Boomers feeling the same way.

Optimism also encompassed the topic of homeownership, with 71 percent of respondents saying they envision being homeowners five years from now.

“These levels of optimism are heartening, as is the desire to continue learning the skills needed to make these positive outcomes a reality,” added Korotzer. “More than three-quarters of respondents said they have an appetite to learn even more, which is encouraging because understanding how to manage money is the foundation of financial stability and success.”

The survey also revealed:

  • Millennials are most interested in increasing their financial know-how, with 38 percent reporting a desire to learn more – compared to 29 percent of Generation X and 30 percent of Boomers.
    • In particular, more than half of respondents (56 percent) say they would like to learn more about managing their money, 4 in 10 feel more knowledge would increase their confidence in decision-making and 4 in 10 aren’t fully confident they know enough to make good decisions about borrowing.
  • According to the survey, when respondents graded their understanding and management of money:
    • 33 percent grade their understanding of personal finances a C, D or F
    • 39 percent grade their understanding of how credit scores work a C, D or F
    • 43 percent grade their understanding of credit and loan products a C, D or F
    • 43 percent grade their understanding of what banks consider when approving a credit product or loan a C, D or F
  • 75 percent of respondents say having a good credit score is important, yet only 54 percent say they are proud of their credit score and 37 percent are concerned about their credit score.
  • 56 percent believe a person’s credit rating is a reflection of how responsible they are with money and 45 percent regularly monitor their credit report.
  • Half of respondents agree that having some debt is normal. However, one-third say they live debt-free, half say they do not carry a credit card balance and half save for major purchases instead of relying on credit.
  • Consumers are improving their financial situations. For example:
    • 38 percent report having less debt now than they did two years ago – a slight increase over the 36 percent of respondents saying the same in last year’s survey.
    • 38 percent say that if they lost their jobs, they would be able to get by for at least a few months. In last year’s survey, only 32 percent of respondents indicated this level of preparedness.
    • 31 percent of respondents are saving more today than they were five years ago. In 2013, only 28 percent of respondents responded similarly.
    • 27 percent feel prepared for unexpected expenses and emergencies. In 2013, only 21 percent of respondents felt prepared.
  • Most respondents (81 percent) reported the need to plan for significant expenses in the next couple of years. The most common expenses mentioned were travel (35 percent), taxes (35 percent) and home improvement (30 percent).
    • Most prefer to fund their significant expenses with cash savings, instead of credit. Exceptions: specific-purpose loans such as a mortgage, auto, or student and personal loans for the purpose of debt consolidation.
  • Most feel that there are different kinds of debt, with 52 percent of respondents saying owing money on a mortgage is not the same as owing money on other types of purchases.
  • Millennials are more likely than older consumers to consider a student loan an investment.
  • On average, respondents believe their current homes to be worth $311,000 and owe $151,000 on their homes.

Free Tools

Understanding how to responsibly manage finances and credit are important steps to building (or improving) and maintaining a sound financial future. To help its customers succeed financially through life’s various stages, Wells Fargo offers the following complimentary tools:

  • My Financial Guide, which features articles and videos about money management.
  • Hands on Banking®, an interactive financial education program for all age groups (available in Spanish at
  • Wells Fargo’s new Path to Credit video series, designed to illustrate why credit, and understanding it, is important to everyday life.
  • My FirstHome online, which helps first-time and ready-again buyers prepare for homeownership.
  • Get College ReadySM, an interactive platform for parents and college-bound students offering free resources and tools to help guide students’ transition into college.

About the How America Buys and Borrows survey

On behalf of Wells Fargo, Ipsos surveyed more than 3,000 American adults ages 18 to 65 in June 2014 online to understand attitudes and perceptions of current economy and personal financial situations. Weighting on age, gender, education, diverse segments and income was applied to the results to achieve a nationally representative population. The “How America Buys and Borrows” survey was first conducted in 2013 and will be conducted annually.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.6 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,700 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet (, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2014 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories.


Wells Fargo & Company
Kate Pulley, 917-260-1673
Natalie Brown, 775-689-6123

Release Summary

Americans Optimistic About the Economy, Finances and the Future Generations are united by optimism and strong desire to learn more money management skills in 2015


Wells Fargo & Company
Kate Pulley, 917-260-1673
Natalie Brown, 775-689-6123