Meet President Trump: 15 Most Popular Money Changes People Are Now Making
Will Donald Trump make the American economy great again? Sixty percent of Americans who Gallup polled just after the November election believed he would. But not all are convinced we’re in for smooth financial sailing over the next four years.
When asked what to expect from Trump’s presidency, half of the people credit-reporting agency Experian surveyed said they thought their own financial status would improve. But only 37% felt there would be a rising tide to lift all boats.
Unsurprisingly, there was a stark red-blue divide in the results of the survey of 1,000 voting-age people, conducted in late November 2016. Republicans were very optimistic. More than 70% of GOP supporters said they expected everyone’s finances to improve in the next four years. But only 19% of Democrats believed the American economy would improve under Trump, and 53% thought things were going to get worse.
Wherever they fell on the political spectrum, most people planned to make money changes in response to the new political climate. Fifty-five percent said they took some financial action as a result of Trump’s election, and a third of those surveyed said they were planning major money changes over the next four years.
Here are 15 money moves Americans are making in the wake of Trump’s election. No. 14 is something all of us should probably do, considering the majority of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
1. Saving more for retirement
Most Americans are way behind in their retirement savings. More than half have $10,000 or less set aside, and 1 out of 3 haven’t saved a thing, according to GoBankingRates. But a small fraction of Americans saw Trump’s victory as a good reason to increase their retirement account contributions. Two percent said they were saving more for retirement since the election.
Those who are saving more for the future might need to keep a closer eye on the financial adviser who helps them choose their investments. Trump might do away with a rule that requires advisers to steer clients to the best investments for them, not the ones that are merely “suitable” (and which happen to make the adviser more money). Possible changes to the tax code, such as shrinking the number of tax brackets, could also mean you’ll need to rethink your retirement savings strategy, experts told U.S. News & World Report.
2. Creating a long-term financial plan
Three percent of people Experian surveyed said creating a long-term financial plan was the first money move they made post-election. Some were probably embracing planning because of renewed optimism, while others were girding themselves for a coming financial storm.
Whatever you think is coming in the next four years, having a financial plan in place will help you manage it. But 34% of Americans haven’t taken any steps to prepare for their financial future, a 2015 Northwestern Mutual survey found. Most don’t even have enough saved to cover a basic household emergency. You might not think you need financial planning if you’re already part of the 1%, but taking steps to save, budget, and set goals is an important step to building wealth.
3. Embracing budgeting
Trump’s election reminded some people it was time to get serious about budgeting. Nine percent of people surveyed said starting a budget was the first money move they’d made in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s victory.
Budgeting, or keeping track of how much you spend relative to your income, is key to managing your personal finances. But only 40% of Americans have a budget, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. If you’re one of the many Americans who doesn’t have a budget but wants to get better at managing your money, start by recording your daily spending and tracking your income. Once you have an idea of how much is coming in and going out, you can adjust your spending and set specific financial goals. Tools, such as Mint and You Need a Budget, can help.
4. Checking their investments
The stock market rallied after Trump’s surprise victory, so it’s no surprise some people were curious to see how their investments were faring. Ten percent of people Experian surveyed said they checked in on their investments right after the presidential election.
Those with investments in energy, banking, and construction stocks were probably happy with what they saw. Shares in those industries were strong performers post-election. Private prison stocks did well, too, as did for-profit college stocks. But uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act hurt health care stocks. Overall, markets have responded positively to the new administration. One month into Trump’s presidency, the bull market shows no signs of abating.
Among the pessimists who replied to Experian’s survey, 11% expect they’ll have to downsize to cope with a negative financial situation in the next few years. Another 10% said they’d get a roommate to save on costs.
Considering the average new home size in the U.S. is at an all-time high of 2,687 square feet (even though average family size has been relatively stable for decades) many Americans could likely get by with less space. If you own your home outright, downsizing can turn a portion of what is probably your biggest asset into cash. You might also save money on repairs, maintenance and utilities by moving into a smaller place. You might even consider moving into a tiny house. Not only will you probably saving on housing costs, but you also won’t have any space to buy more stuff, saving you even more money.
6. Shopping smarter
When it comes to longer-term financial changes people planned to make in response to Trump’s election, 12% of people said their goal over the next four years was to become a smarter shopper. That could mean always heading to the grocery store with a list, unsubscribing from daily deal emails, or clipping coupons to save money.
Shopping smarter also means being aware of the tricks retailers use to get you to spend more. Savvy consumers know grocery stores tend to place expensive items at eye level, “buy one, get one 50% off” sales aren’t always a great deal, and free shipping minimums can persuade you to spend more in order to “save.”
7. Selling valuables
A significant minority — 21% — of people Experian surveyed had a bleak financial outlook for the next four years. Of those who believe a Trump presidency is going to leave them worse off financially, 18% say they plan to respond by selling off assets and valuables.
Unloading your possessions for cash is easier than ever. Aside from tried-and-true marketplaces, such as Craigslist and eBay, specialized apps and websites will help you sell your designer handbags, old electronics, musical instruments, engagement rings, and other items. Pawn shops, antique stores, yard sales, consignment shops, and auction houses are other ways to turn valuables into rent money.
Twenty-two percent of people who responded to Experian’s survey said they planned to move in the next four years. That’s in line with other surveys, such as a 2013 Gallup poll that found 21% of Americans had moved within the U.S. in the past five years. Most of those moves are for work, The Atlantic reported, with people frequently pulling up stakes and heading to cities or states with more jobs or better opportunities.
If Trump fulfills his promise to add millions of jobs to the economy, it could further shape internal migration. Perhaps people will move to southern border regions in the hopes of snagging one of the projected 21,200 to 25,600 jobs building the controversial wall. If he succeeds in revitalizing the coal industry, it could stop the flow of people leaving West Virginia, which has lost thousands of residents in the past few years, according to Governing magazine.
9. Reading more financial news
For many, Trump’s win was a big surprise. In the days after his victory, some turned to the media for help understanding what it all meant, including what might be in store for their money. Twenty percent of people Experian polled said they’d read more financial news in the days following the election.
Educating yourself can help you make better financial choices, but you should be careful not to let the news drive your decision-making. Making big changes to your financial plan because of today’s headlines can distract you from your bigger goals, especially when it comes to retirement.
“The general rule about retirement planning that applies during the Trump administration is the same one that applied during previous administrations and that will apply to those in the future: Unless you can be reasonably sure that making a change will lead to a better result, you’re better off just staying the course,” RealDealRetirement.com editor Walter Updegrave wrote in an article for Time.
10. Getting smart about credit
The typical American household with credit card debt is carrying a balance of more than $16,000, which costs them about $1,300 a year in interest payment alone, according to NerdWallet. So it’s hardly a shock to learn 25% of Americans said using credit more responsibly was the biggest financial change they planned to make in the next four years. Paying off existing debt, always paying balances in full, and not opening any more credit cards were among people’s specific credit-related goals.
When it comes to being smart about credit card management, there’s one big rule to remember: Don’t spend more on your cards than you can afford pay off at the end of the month. If you’re not careful, your balance will quickly balloon, making it even harder to pay off your debt. Opening a ton of cards and missing payments are among the other credit sins to avoid.
11. Finding a second job
Cash-strapped Americans are turning to second jobs to help them make ends meet. Thirty-one percent of people said they’d be looking into landing a second job or starting a business to supplement their full-time work and make more money, Experian found. People who were pessimistic about the economy under a Trump presidency were slightly more likely to be thinking about getting a side job to improve their finances.
Holding down multiple jobs is becoming slightly more common. In 2016, 7.8 million people had a second job, compared to 7.3 million in 2015. Overall, 5.2% of Americans work for more than one employer, USA Today reported. Some are taking those extra jobs to pay down debt or save more money, but others aren’t doing it by choice. Rather, reduced wages or difficultly finding full-time work is forcing them to juggle jobs.
12. Paying off debt
Eighty percent of Americans are in debt, and they owe an average of $67,900. So, it’s hardly a shock that 33% say they plan to pay off some of their debt over the next four years.
Digging yourself out of debt can be hard. It might seem like you’re throwing money at your bills every month but not making any real progress. For your debt payoff goal to succeed, you need a strategy. Automatic payments prevent late fees, while cutting spending frees up more money for payments. Requesting a lower interest rate from your credit card issuer, looking into alternative student loan repayment plans (or even forgiveness options), and, in some cases, consolidating your debt can also help you pay off debt faster. But you’ll also need to stop adding to what you owe, which can be the hardest part for some people.
13. Spending less
Although consumer confidence is up since the election, cutting spending was still a long-term goal for 39% people surveyed. Unsurprisingly, people with a negative economic outlook for the next four years were much more likely to say they planned to spend less. Two-thirds of people who were expecting their finances to get worse over the course of Trump presidency said they were going to cut back on expenses.
If your goal is to spend less money, the first step is to look for ways to cut back on discretionary purchases. Canceling cable, curtailing trips to Starbucks, and brown-bagging your lunch can save you $1,000 a year or more.
14. Saving more money
Forty-one percent of people surveyed said saving more money was their top financial goal for the next four years. That’s good news, considering Americans’ anemic savings rate. Although financial experts usually recommend saving 15% to 20% of your after-tax income, 62% of people have less than $1,000 in savings, research has found.
Even if you’ve been a savings slacker in the past, there are easy ways to give your account balances a boost. Aside from cutting spending and shifting those dollars into savings, you can also try tricks, such as the 52-week money challenge, which motivate you to reach specific savings goals. Setting up automatic transfers is another way to make saving seamless.
15. Looking for a better-paying job
Americans are on the hunt for better opportunities. Forty-three percent said they planned to improve their finances in the next four years by trading in their current job for a better-paying one.
Before you kick off your search for a better job, make sure you know how to negotiate for a higher salary. Being familiar with the typical range for people with your skills and experience is essential. If you’ve hit a wall when it comes to pay in your current career, now might be the time to consider switching fields. Communications manager, data analyst, and admission representative are among the jobs where wages are up significantly over the past year.