At Puckett Financial Advisors in Oklahoma City, a lot of clients are the typical millionaires next door.
They have built up their wealth by living within their means and don’t want to fritter away what they have.
The unsettling—to say the least—events of the financial meltdown and the Great Recession gave them and other Americans a reality check, said Brian Puckett, the managing partner at Puckett Financial Advisors.
“Everyone is opening their statements and seeing that their accounts have recovered quite a bit,” Puckett said. “The natural reaction is ‘I’m better off’. Maybe this train derailment is over with, and we can go down the road. Our economy has some things to work through, but maybe the derailment is done.”
Puckett’s clients are reflecting the attitudes expressed in a recent study by TD Ameritrade Holding, which says they are ready to focus more on the quality of their lives in 2011, instead of fretting about their finances.
Apparently a lot of them have built up enough of a buffer to do that, as 39% of respondents said they were in better financial shape at the time of TD Ameritrade’s study, than in previous years. A majority of Americans, 67%, said they planned relax and reduce stress, and the same amount of respondents said they wanted to have more fun. Also, a clear minority of respondents, 27%, said they are less likely to make New Year’s resolutions about their personal finances.
The consumer-oriented division of TD Ameritrade conducted the survey in September, by polling 1,009 adults by telephone.
“When the recession was at its peak in 2008 and 2009, fear and uncertainty drove a lot of people to act on their financial plans,” said Stuart Rubinstein, managing director of investment products for TD Ameritrade Holding. “Today we’re seeing a shift and while Americans are still striving to meet financial goals, they may feel confident enough in their financial standing to put relaxation and fun first in 2011.”
That doesn’t mean Americans are going to neglect their finances. Actually, 65% of respondents said they planned to save more money in the coming year.
“Americans are recognizing that perhaps all of us have confused wants and needs,” Puckett said. “They are saying ‘Maybe we don’t need all the things we thought we needed. We’ve got this amount of money left, and we’re good.’ It was a wakeup call as to what really matters to most Americans.”
Although 55% of respondents describe their financial outlook for 2011 as uncertain, they are hopeful that the U.S. economy is on the rebound. This mixed attitude was especially pronounced among women and young people. Actually, 60% of women and 58% of adults aged 18 to 34 described their outlook at uncertain while maintaining hope for the broader economy. Overall, just 23% of all respondents said they are pessimistic about the country’s financial outlook.