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RISMEDIA, July 28, 2010—Even as economists consider the possibility of a double-dip recession, consumers are generally positive about the economy’s future, according to survey results recently released by PerkStreet Financial, a progressive online financial services company. The survey, conducted online from June 11-15, 2010 by Harris Interactive, looked at consumers’ attitudes toward the recession and how consumer behavior has changed due to the financial crisis.

Forty-four percent of adults believe the economy is improving, though there is a long way to go, as illustrated by survey findings showing significant effects of the recession. One in five Americans (20%) have reduced their spending on essentials like food and medication, while more women than men say the recession has caused more arguments in their household regarding money.

Women are more likely to feel the recession’s effects than men and change their actions accordingly, and are also more likely than men to say the recession has made them more open when discussing money with friends (19% vs. 12%).

Eighty-three percent of adults have taken action because of the recession. For many, this includes making strides toward controlling their spending, with 41% of adults spending more time shopping for the best deals and 40% reporting increased use of coupons. Fifty-seven percent of adults who have taken action because of the recession made changes in their overall spending habits, and 61% said they have cut back on entertainment expenses like dining out or travel.

“The recession has affected every aspect of our lives,” said PerkStreet CEO Dan O’Malley, “and it’s forced most of us to reevaluate our financial habits. With many Americans forced to cut back even on essentials, making every dollar count has become more important than ever. Coupons, comparison shopping and cutting back on discretionary spending are a great start, but it’s also important to look for savings in places you might not initially think about—like considering whether your bank is investing wisely in the things that matter to you.”

Additional survey results include:

-Some people reported that the recession has impacted their relationships with spouses and other family members. While some reported increased friction in their households, others grew closer to their loved ones as they navigated the financial crisis together.

-Among adults who said the recession had impacted them personally, one in five (20%) said it had increased the number of arguments in their households regarding money.

Gender Differences
-Women have been hit especially hard by the recession, but have also taken the most action to improve their financial situations. Women are more likely to say the recession has increased household disagreements about money (20% vs. 12%).

-Women (84%) are more likely than men (76%) to feel personally impacted by the recession, and are also more likely to have taken action because of the recession (86% of women compared to 80% of men).

-Among adults who have been impacted personally by the recession, 31% of women said the recession made them realize they had been spending frivolously, compared to 25% of men.

-One in five of those who felt personally impacted by the recession said it has made it more acceptable to discuss money and finances with friends. Young women were more likely to feel this shift, at 28% of women ages 18 to 34, compared to 17% of men in the same age group.

-Among adults who have been personally impacted by the recession, women (24%) were more likely than men (16%) to say there have been more arguments caused by money in their households.

Parents and Children
-Those with a child under 18 living in their household have been faced with decisions about what to tell them about the recession and its impact on their family’s finances.

-Nearly one-quarter (24%) of adults with children under 18 in their household who were impacted by the recession said they have been forced to be more open with their children about the household’s financial situation. Nearly one-third (31%) of adults with teens (13-17 years old) in their household reported discussing household finances more openly with their children.

-Among adults who have taken action because of the recession, 15% of those with children under 18 in their household have increased the amount of time they spend educating their children on money management.

-Adults with children under 18 in their household were twice as likely as those without children in their household to say the recession has increased the number of arguments about money in their households (24% vs. 12%).

Regional Differences
-Region has a clear effect on people’s attitudes about the recent financial crisis and their specific financial situations.

-Those in the Midwest are more likely to blame Wall Street and big banks for the financial crisis (48%), compared to those in the West (39%).

-Adults in the Northeast have been impacted more by the recession (84%) than those in the Midwest (77%).

Age Differences
-The effects of the recession vary by generation, as do responses to the crisis.

-Twenty-one percent of Americans believe the worst of the recession is still to come. Older adults are less upbeat about the economy, with 29% of adults ages 55 and older believing the worst is still to come compared to only 12% of those 18-34. Men ages 55 and above are more pessimistic than men ages 18-34, with nearly one-third (31%) saying the worst is yet to come compared to 13%.

-The recession has caused younger adults to consider the future, with 48% of those ages 18-34 reporting it has made them think more about financial planning.

More Change Still Needed
-Despite the majority of adults being impacted by the financial crisis, only 23% say the recession has forever changed the way they think about and spend money.

-While 71% of adults have a savings account, only 17% report increasing the amount they save each month.

-Seventy percent of adults have a major credit card, yet only 34% of adults are using their credit cards less as a result of the recession.

-Few people call themselves excellent money managers (26%), yet only 13% are increasing the time and effort they spend educating themselves on how to better manage and invest their money as a result of the recession.

-Twenty-seven percent of those that have a debit card in their own name would rather pay a $30 overdraft fee than have their debit card declined in front of others.

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