As the pandemic eases, Americans splurging a little, saving, and paying down their debt

Istock Fancy Dinner 05212021

“While COVID-19 upended nearly every corner of American life, many are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and are ready for a reset.” That’s the word from Jonathan Craig, senior executive vice president and head of Investor Services, Charles Schwab about the results of the investment company’s 2021 Modern Wealth Survey.

And though Americans are starting to splurge, it seems the belt tightening they did in 2020 is carrying over into the “after times.”

Craig explains of the 2,000 respondents to the survey, “They plan to prioritize experiences and treat themselves after living constrained lives amid restrictions, quarantines and illnesses. But we’re also seeing a healthy balance…”

The survey showed 40% are dreaming about traveling, and 24% want to take an extended vacation. 

But the survey also showed more modest goals for 2021: 30% said they want to start socializing with the friends and families they missed, 21% say they want to eat at a fancy restaurant, and 15% said they planned to throw a party for family and friends.  

And they’re not all blowing through that stimulus money: polls are showing they’re saving more, and paying their bills with their government money. Sixty-four percent in the Schwab survey said they were savers during 2020, and 80% said they planned to be bigger savers this year. Nearly half of those want to save more money in the coming year, and 34% want to cut their debt.

This tracks with a March survey from the bill pay company doxo, which looked into how stimulus checks were being spent. Their number-crunchers saw a surge in bills being paid that month — with more paid for each bill — than was seen in the previous month, before the stimulus money had arrived for millions.

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