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Is your personal economy improving?
March 5th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Is your personal economy improving?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Four in 10 Americans say the U.S. economy is growing.

That's up from 27% last April and just 3% in 2008.

The flip side of the new USA Today/Gallup Poll is that 46% say the economy is in a recession or a depression.

But the survey definitely suggests a growing optimism about the economy.

It's reflected among both men and women and among all age groups, regions of the country and political parties.

However, politics still does play a role here: Democrats, nonwhites and self-described liberals are the most likely to believe the economy is growing.

Republicans and conservatives are the least likely to see the glass half full.

In what might be a sign of concern for President Obama, about half of independents say we're in a recession or depression.

There are several factors causing concern for many Americans when it comes to their "personal economy."

For starters, the housing market – the biggest asset for many – is still in trouble.

Home prices recently fell to their lowest point in more than a decade.

Then there are surging gasoline prices, which affect nearly everyone.

AAA reports gas prices hit a national average of $3.77 a gallon, up for the 27th day in a row. In several states, gas is already at or near $4 a gallon.

Some economists worry that high gas prices could be the tipping point that brings a new economic downturn.

Here’s my question to you: Is your personal economy improving?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Personal Finances
What does it mean when one out of every four Americans has more credit card debt than emergency savings?
February 27th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

What does it mean when one out of every four Americans has more credit card debt than emergency savings?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans are back to their old irresponsible ways when it comes to credit card spending.

A new survey shows that only 54% of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt.

Which means many of us are only one major unplanned expense away from financial catastrophe.

The BankRate.com poll also shows 25% of those surveyed have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

And 16% have neither credit card debt nor emergency savings.

Who's most likely to save? Households making $75,000 or more per year, college graduates and retirees.

And parents are most likely to have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

No surprise here - households making less than $30,000, those with a high school education or less and the unemployed are most likely to have neither debt nor savings.

The survey also shows consumers' overall financial situation is negative:

More people report a lower level of financial security and are less comfortable with their savings compared to one year ago.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that total consumer debt reached its highest point in a decade last month.

Experts say that after a few months of reducing credit card debt levels, Americans are back to relying on the plastic.

There's a concern that middle class Americans are taking on too much risk.

Running up credit card debt at a time of long-term unemployment, stagnant wages and increased household expenses could be toxic.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when one out of every four Americans has more credit card debt than emergency savings?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Jack Cafferty • Personal Finances
January 5th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Your financial resolutions for the new year?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Instead of the more traditional New Year's resolutions to lose weight or hit the gym, how about getting your financial house in order in 2011?

According to one recent survey, a whopping 70% of consumers say their top financial resolution is to decrease their debt. That's followed by improving their credit score, relying less on credit cards and saving more.

USA Today takes a look at five easy financial resolutions that could save you big money.

  • Order your free credit reports. This is especially important because a damaged credit report can hurt your ability to get a job.
  • Get a medical exam. Preventive health care can help your doctor identify medical problems before they become serious, thus reducing future health care costs. Thanks to changes in Medicare and the new health care law, millions of Americans can now get free physicals.
  • Update beneficiaries on your insurance policies, pensions and retirement plans. Experts say people often forget to do this and if they unexpectedly die, the money doesn't go where they want it to.
  • Increase your 401(k) contributions. Many workers reduced their retirement savings during the economic downturn, when companies froze matching contributions. But many of these companies are starting to match again.
  • Re-balance your 401(k) portfolio. Financial advisers recommend reviewing your investment portfolio at least once a year. Ignoring the changes in the market can cost you a lot of money.

Here’s my question to you: What are your financial resolutions for the new year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Money • Personal Finances