Poll finds Chicagoans more optimistic about finances than fellow Americans

Survey reveals significant emotional benefits of responsible spending and borrowing habits

Consumer Action joined Chase Card Services in Chicago today for an event to unveil the 2011 Chase Blueprint®-Consumer Action Pulse of the Consumer Survey, which looks at U.S. consumer attitudes about the general direction of the economy and their own personal finances. Consumer Action has created a "tip sheet" for smart credit card use based on the findings. Click here to download the tip sheet.

Linda Sherry, Consumer Action's director of national priorities, joined a panel moderated by Gail MarksJarvis of the Chicago Tribune at the Gleacher Center of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The panel included Caryn Kaiser, general manager of Chase Blueprint, and Erik Hurst of the Booth School of Business.

The research found that Chicago consumers are more optimistic about the general direction of the economy and their own personal finances than the nation overall, and that 39 percent of Chicago consumers believe the economy will still get worse, compared to 60 percent of their national counterparts.

The survey assessed the spending and borrowing habits—specifically the emotional benefits of good financial behavior—of Chicago consumers as well their sentiment toward the economy and their personal finances.  

It also reveals that consumers are pursuing financially responsible behavior. Fifty-nine percent of Chicagoans say they have changed the way they manage and monitor their spending and borrowing due to the country’s economic situation, mirroring national trends.

Thirty-seven percent of Chicago consumers report their personal finances are getting better and 70 percent say they are in control (nationally 28 and 66 percent respectively). Looking to the future, roughly six in 10 Chicagoans are “very” optimistic that they will be able to better manage their spending and borrowing habits in the future—10 percentage points higher than the national sample.

“It’s striking to see how Chicagoans have changed their personal financial behaviors in response to economic conditions,” said Sherry, head of Consumer Action's DC office. “Perhaps because of these changes, they are reporting more confidence and optimism in managing their finances than their national counterparts.”

“Consumers have changed their financial habits and are being more thoughtful in response to the economic climate,” said Chase's Kaiser. “Products like our Blueprint fit with their new mindset and behaviors.”

Room for improvement

While seven in 10 Chicagoans categorize their borrowing habits as “always mindful,” and 65 percent categorize their spending habits the same way, the survey reveals some areas where Chicagoans would like to see improvements:

  • More simplicity: Forty-seven percent of Chicagoans report that they would dedicate more time to managing their finances if it were simpler to do so (compared to 37 percent nationally).
  • Better planning: More than one in five consumers in Chicago say they are “not prepared at all” for an unexpected purchase of $1,500 (compared to 12 percent nationally).

Money-life balance

The survey also examines “money-life balance,” the positive emotional benefits that accompany financial responsibility. Chicagoans fall in line with the rest of America on this scale, with the majority (52 percent) indicating that having a borrowing and spending plan in place and sticking to it helps them maintain a good money-life balance. However, a third (34 percent) says that this outcome describes them only “somewhat well.”

While there are very few differences demographically or socio-economically within the group, its responses show that they feel less in control, less confident and less optimistic about their personal finances and would benefit from and be receptive to tools that help increase their confidence.

“While many people feel stressed when it comes time to manage their finances, consumers with plans in place experience emotional relief knowing that their finances are under control,” said Sherry. “Consumers should seek out tools and services that help simplify the process and make it easier to achieve this financial balance.”

Credit card habits

According to the survey, 95 percent of credit card users in Chicago say that they normally keep track of and have a plan for paying off their monthly credit card balances.  When you look at the behaviors of Chicagoans who carry a balance on their credit cards, 62 percent use the card to purchase items they don’t have cash for at the moment.


About the Survey

The 2011 Chase-Consumer Action Consumer Pulse Survey, a telephone poll of 1,016 adults, was conducted between August 16 and August 26, 2011. In addition, 401 adults in Chicago were also sampled within the same time period.

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action is a nonprofit organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. Throughout its history, the organization has dedicated its resources to promoting financial literacy and advocating for consumer rights in both the media and before lawmakers to promote economic justice for all. With the resources and infrastructure to reach millions of consumers, Consumer Action is one of the most recognized, effective, and trusted consumer organizations in the nation.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. [NYSE: JPM] is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.3 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.




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