Financial experts, however, were pleasantly surprised by the results, having expected that far fewer people were budgeting. Accountant Howard Dvorkin, one of the survey’s sponsors, said he was “both surprised and pleased” at the results.
“Given that credit card debt in this country has topped $1 trillion, and that student loan debt is approaching $1.5 trillion,” said Dvorkin, he expected a different outcome. Budgeting, he said, is the best method for combating debt. “The only way to climb out of that oppressive debt is to know what you earn and what you spend. Without that knowledge, you have no power.”
The survey asked 1,042 people over the age of 18 to talk about how budgeting fits into their lives. And while the majority of people are making budgets, not all of them are doing it in the most efficient way possible. Sixty-six percent still use paper and pencil, though there are many apps and online tools available to help folks budget. Only 32 percent said they use a spreadsheet program to keep track of their spending and saving, and a mere 16 percent use an app. Thirteen percent take advantage of tools offered by their bank or credit union.
Grocery stores are good news for budgets; holidays, not so much
One place people are sticking to their budgets is at the grocery store. More than half (nearly 57 percent) of respondents said they use a shopping list and use coupons at the grocery store to help them stay on track. Only 5 percent said they’re vulnerable to impulse buys while grocery shopping.
When do people fail at budgeting? Special events and holidays. Almost 15 percent of survey participants said they tend to shop at the last minute and go over budget for a holiday or special occasion. Still, more than 72 percent of those surveyed said using a budget helped them get out of debt or stay out of debt. And only 21 percent found budgeting to be overly time-consuming.
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