Consumers are boosting the balances of their personal savings accounts and are also more likely to rollover their monthly credit card balances, according to the 2016 Consumer Financial Literary Survey conducted on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and BECU, a not-for-profit credit union.

The percentage of adults who reported saving more than last year to their personal, non-retirement savings increased from 24% to 26%, while the percentage with the same amount increased slightly to 58%.

Overall, 40% of respondents said they have a budget and closely monitor their spending, according to the survey, which includes responses from more than 1,600 adults in the U.S.NFCC officials caution that respondents’ progress on personal savings could be at risk because of jumps in the number of adults who carry over a credit card balance each month.

"According to the 2016 data, more than one in 10 adults are saying they roll over $2,500 or more in credit card debt each month, up from 2015 (14% in 2016 vs. 11% in 2015)," NFCC reports in a news release.

One in three U.S. adults reported their household has credit card debt from month to month, according to the survey findings. It also shows that, in the past 12 months and similar to 2015, 18% of survey respondents applied for a new credit card, 7% had an application rejected and 7% said they were late on making a credit card payment.

"We are encouraged by the slight increases in U.S. savings rates, however it’s clear that we still have more work to do to improve the financial health of Americans nationwide," said Benson Porter, president and CEO of BECU.

Other findings in the survey include:

  • Among respondent currently paying a student loan, 66% said those loans (their own or their children’s) negatively impact their overall personal financial situation.
  • Forty-one percent of respondents said they do not feel confident they could pay for a $30,000 student loan. 
  • Twenty-four percent of respondents with financial problems related to debt said they would seek help from their family or friends. Twenty-one percent said they could resolve their problems without outside help, such as from a credit counseling agency, while 23% said they would seek such professional help. 
  • Respondents’ retirement savings also increased slightly in the past year, to 69%. However, 26% of respondents (compared to 29% in 2015) still report they do not save any of their annual income for retirement.
  • Ninety-one percent of respondents said they are very or somewhat confident about their last significant financial decision (such as selecting a credit card or buying a car.) About three in four (74%) said they pay all their bills related to those purchases on time and do not have debt in collection. However, about one in five (22%) report they do not pay their bills on time.

Susan C. Keating, president and CEO of the NFCC, said that the foundation created by personal savings is weakened as consumers’ debt becomes unmanageable and they carry over their balances over time. 
"Those who are unable to make sufficient progress reducing their debt balances should seek the financial advice and tools they need to stabilize their finances and put a financial action plan in place to achieve future goals," Keating said.

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