As of January 2023, almost two-thirds of respondents in a Pymnts survey — 60 percent — said they live paycheck to paycheck, including more than four in 10 people who earn more than $100,000 a year.
That’s an improvement from January 2022, when 64 percent of survey respondents made the same claim.
Pymnts, a provider of data, news and insights on innovation in payments, polled 4,163 U.S. consumers from Jan. 6 to Jan. 27, 2023 and described the results in its “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report.” The report was published in February 2023 in collaboration with LendingClub.
The decrease suggests that spending less in 2022 improved some consumers’ financial situations, according to the paycheck-to-paycheck report.
“While it’s too early to indicate a trend, consumers have accepted that inflation is part of their everyday lives,” said Anuj Nayar, financial health officer at San Francisco-based financial services company LendingClub, in a press release. “… they are actively making behavioral changes… to adjust their spending and better manage their cash flow.”
Fewer consumers earning more than $100,000 a year (45 percent of those polled) reported living paycheck to paycheck in January 2023 compared to 48 percent reporting in January 2022.
Despite U.S. Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow inflation, the PCE or personal consumption expenditure index — the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation — rose a higher-than-expected 5.4 percent in January, reflecting an accelerating pace of consumer spending.
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Consumer spending slowed down in the fourth quarter of 2022 but rose by 1.8 percent in January 2023 compared to a predicted 1.4 percent.
Faced with inflation, more Americans are relying on credit cards to make ends meet.
At the end of 2022, credit card debt hit a record $930.6 billion, up 18.5 percent from a year earlier. The average credit card balance increased to $5,805, according to TransUnion.
Total household debt also increased by 2.4 percent to $16.9 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2022, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported.
Lower stock prices, declining home values and other indicators point to some level of financial stress, Bloomberg reported.
Data showed that consumers living paycheck-to-paycheck have average outstanding credit card balances equivalent to 62 percent of their available savings. The study found that 27 percent of consumers said they pulled money from savings and/or investments to pay down credit card debt.
“While consumers are making behavioral changes as they adapt to inflationary pressures on their pocketbooks, it may not be enough to balance their finances,” Nayar said. “Consumers across the income spectrum carry massive credit card balances and with interest rates for debt growing, outstanding debt balances could equal all paycheck-to-paycheck consumers’ savings balances in the next five years.”