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While society's richest members grow wealthier, financial pressures on just about everyone else continue to mount. It seems impossible not to notice prices increasing on everything - gas, food, clothing, shelter - while wages remain stagnant, and rent is rising at the fastest rate since 1986.

Slickdeals recently commissioned a survey from OnePoll of over 2,000 US adults to asses finances over the past year and their outlook for 2023. A full 58% found this past year to be economically difficult for them. In 2021, only 15% found the year economically difficult.

According to the survey, it doesn't appear that these financial difficulties come from a variety of sources. Nearly four out of five people surveyed (79%) were concerned about inflation. The majority of people (66%) felt that inflation would be a massive obstacle to achieving their financial goals in 2023.

However, as a previous Slickdeals survey found, people are using creative ways to ameliorate the impact of inflation, such as purchasing goods that last 20 years or more. In these cases, shoppers could forgive spending a little extra upfront to get a durable product, as it protected them from having to quickly replace it at a likely even more inflated price.

Financial Planning for an Uncertain Tomorrow

While the majority of those surveyed found that 2022 was financially difficult for them, only 63% said that their New Year's resolutions included being better with money. That's a noticeable decrease from 76% in 2021 and 73% in 2020.

While it's difficult to say for sure what's behind this dip, 11% of respondents said they were so frustrated with 2022, they weren't bothering making resolutions at all for the upcoming year. It's possible that for some people, long-term planning has taken a backseat in the face of increasing prices and a potential looming recession.

Indeed, in 2021, 66% of those surveyed claimed that 2022 would be the year they became financially stable. This year, only 53% posited the same for 2023.

It seems that for some people, the goal has simply become to keep their heads above water. In 2020, 72% of people believed they would accumulate wealth by repairing their financial situation. In 2021, that number increased to 76%. This year, just 55% of those surveyed believed fixing their financial issues would mean accumulating wealth. As the student loan crisis all too clearly illustrates, simply breaking even has become an increasingly unreachable dream for millions of Americans.

Causes of Personal Financial Troubles

Inflation may be the primary cause of respondents' concerns, but it's by no means the sole driving factor of economic instability. Over a third of those surveyed (32%) cited the ongoing pandemic as an issue. Additionally, nearly half of respondents last year (47%) experienced financial stress resulting from medical expenses, and 38% struggled with sudden loss of income.

And, of course, it's important to remember that these factors don't exist independently of one another. It's all too easy to imagine losing your job, get in a car accident and being unable to afford your next rent hike. The interconnectivity of financial stressors only adds to the burden for many.

That might be why 59% of people in this year's survey claimed they postponed making a major purchase due to inflation. It's more important to people than ever to save up and create a recession-proof emergency fund.

“While this year’s survey reveals that folks are less optimistic about their finances than they have been in past years’ surveys, the new year is a good opportunity for a financial reset,” said Louie Patterson, personal finance content manager for Slickdeals.

Spending Smarter in the New Year

Over four in five people surveyed (84%) said they feel "mentally better" if their finances under control. And 78% said that achieving financial stability would have a positive domino effect on their lives. As the old saying goes, "Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy choices."

More than half of respondents (55%) are looking to repair their financial status in 2023. It looks like people are most interested in curbing their impulse spending and cutting down on unnecessary bills. After all, who among us doesn't have an extra subscription service or two they forgot they signed up for?

Top 10 Ways To Repair Your Finances In 2023

  • Spending money more wisely - 54%
  • Removing unnecessary bills - 41%
  • Getting out of debt - 36%
  • Creating a monthly budget - 35%
  • Improving credit scores - 34%
  • Dine out/take out less often - 34%
  • Seek out deals or coupons when shopping - 33%
  • Investing money - 31%
  • Selling no longer needed/wanted belongings - 27%
  • Getting a new job - 21%

On average, respondents are aiming to save an extra $312 a month, or $3,744 annually. For those looking to save money by shopping smarter, key factors included looking for products that will last a long time (52%), provide a benefit to everyday life (51%) and go on sale often (37%). If you're looking to improve your financial situation in 2023, be sure to do plenty of research on how to be frugal and save money.

Bottom Line

It can certainly feel overwhelming to attempt fixing your finances. For some people, it may even seem like an insurmountable obstacle. But, as with any big problem, the trick is to break it into manageable pieces. Start small, and you may be shocked with how quickly you can turn things around.

As Patterson says, “Shopping smarter can lead to big savings with just a few simple tweaks such as eliminating subscriptions, tapping into rewards programs, and finding more deals to get the best value. A community of millions of real shoppers helping other shoppers like the one at Slickdeals is a great way to ensure you’re getting the best products at the best prices."

By taking a look at your budget, cutting out extraneous expenses and shopping smarter for the things you do need, you might be able to eliminate some financial stress from your life. And hopefully, this will allow you to focus on the things that really matter in 2023 and beyond.


Slickdeals Money Staff

The Slickdeals Money editorial team is dedicated to helping readers navigate the personal finance space. We’re passionate about educating our readers on the very best financial tools & products on the market today.