Nearly 30% of consumers say they believe the economy and their personal finances are getting better, a jump of more than 6 percentage points from December and the highest figure in the last year, according to the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor.
Those who reported their personal finances were improving rose nearly 5 percentage points to 23% - also the highest figure since February 2011. The spending monitor is a 4-year-old daily poll tracking economic confidence and spending intentions of nearly 8,200 consumers throughout the month. It recorded a 5.5-point jump from the previous month to 90.5. This is the first time since May 2010 that the index has topped 90.
The percentage of people who rated the economy as poor declined from the previous month, down 2 percentage points to 56%. At the same time, the percentage of people who rated the economy as good or excellent exceeded 11%, an increase of more than 2 percentage points from the month before and the highest percentage for the Monitor since September 2008.
Consumer sentiment toward their personal finances showed a marked improvement, while more consumers also reported more money left over at the end of the month:
- Consumers from households of all incomes reported a brightening attitude toward their personal finances, with those from households earning between $40,000 and $75,000 annually seeing the biggest jump in sentiment.
Of that group, nearly 27% said their personal finances were improving, up more than 7 points from the month before. In comparison, of consumers from households with less than $40,000 in annual income, nearly 15% reported they feel more positive about their personal finances, up nearly 4 points from the month before.
- 47% of consumers reported they had money in their pockets after paying bills last month, an increase of 2 points from the month before.
- Of those who reported having money left over, more than 16% said that amount was greater than they had the previous month, a jump of nearly 6 points from December.
Consistent with last month's data, consumers reported this month that they intend to be conservative with their discretionary spending.
- Just 7% said they would spend more next month on discretionary personal items like going out to dinner or the movies, which is the lowest percentage since January 2011. In addition, 49% said they would spend less next month on discretionary personal items, an increase of 1%, while 41% said they would spend about the same as the prior month, an increase of 3 points.
- In addition, 45% reported they would spend less next month on major personal purchases like a vacation, which is down 2 percentage points from the month before, while 40% said they plan to spend the same, up 3 points from December.