More Than Half of Americans Delaying Life Decisions

Americans are putting some big decisions — such as buying a home — on hold. Find out why.

Better Investing

The economy might be on the mend, but finances have caused more than half of Americans to delay at least one major life decision in the past year.

The 51 percent who said they had delayed at least one big decision in 2014 was up from 31 percent in 2007, prior to the Great Recession, according to a survey from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

The survey, released this week, was conducted by Harris Poll in March.

The types of life decisions postponed in 2015 by the 1,010 survey respondents include:

  • Higher education (24 percent delaying decision)
  • Buying a home (22 percent)
  • Medical procedure (19 percent)
  • Retirement (18 percent)
  • Having children (13 percent)
  • Marriage (12 percent)

The chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, Ernie Almonte, said people are delaying these decisions after learning tough lessons during the recession. He told MarketWatch:

“When you peel the onion back, you start to see that what they have experienced — their parents, friends losing their homes or jobs or people in so much debt they file for bankruptcy — stuck with them. They have learned from those lessons … people are looking at things now and saying, ‘I don’t have enough savings for that’ or ‘I will put it off for a year or two until I’m financially stable.’ “

Sixty percent of respondents cited a lack of savings as the chief reason they were delaying major life decisions.

Other reasons for delaying major life decisions included concerns over the health of the U.S. economy (50 percent) and difficulty paying non-mortgage monthly bills (39 percent).

The survey also contained some good news, with 85 percent of respondents saying they had improved their financial behavior since the recession.

Such behaviors include following a monthly budget, increasing savings and creating an emergency fund.

Are you trying to improve your financial behavior? Let us know about your efforts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Also, check out the Solutions Center for help with everything from paying off credit card debt to tracking your spending.

Stacy Johnson

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