PenFed survey finds overall consumers would rather save than splurge with new found money

SAN ANTONIO, VA (March 5, 2018) — PenFed Credit Union, the nation’s second-largest federal credit union, today announced results from a nationwide survey on consumer behaviors and opinions related to savings. Nationally recognized market research firm McLaughlin & Associates conducted the survey on behalf of PenFed. It found that American consumers are overall more likely to be fiscally responsible with new found money, rather than spend it on entertainment or social activities. Saving is in the forefront of adults’ minds when it comes to handling new found money across all key demographics. If adults were given $5,000, they would put about half of it (48%) into savings, spend 42% and give 10% to charity.

McLaughlin & Associates conducted the survey from February 15 – February 21, 2018, on behalf of PenFed Credit Union. The survey was conducted online among a cross section of 1,000 adults age 18 and over, and has an accuracy of +/- 3.1% at a 95% confidence interval. It found:

  • The top things that adults would do if they received $5,000 are put it in savings (63%), pay bills (55%), and pay down a debt/loan (41%).
  • The second-tier list is save for retirement (23%), treat themselves to a vacation (19%), pay for a car (14%) and save for education/college (14%).
  • Paying bills (64% to 44%) and paying down a debt/loan (43% to 39%) is a higher priority among households with less than $60,000 annual income, while saving for retirement (27% to 20%) and saving for education/college (27% to 20%) is higher priority among households with more than $60,000 annual income.
  • By education level, adults without a college degree are more likely to pay bills (61% to 48%) while college graduates are more likely to save for retirement (29% to 18%).
  • By age, adults under 54 are more likely to pay down a debt/loan (43% to 39%), save for education/college (20% to 2%), pay for a car (16% to 10%), pay for a down payment on a home (14% to 3%), and splurge on a big-ticket item/shopping spree (13% to 4%) or a big night out (11% to 6%).

“Saving the extra money you receive whether through a bonus at work, inheritance, raise, or those months where you get three paychecks, is crucial to reaching your financial goals,” said Stephen Simpson, CFP®, AAMS®, Vice President, Affiliated Businesses with PenFed. Mr. Simpson leads PenFed’s Wealth Management Division including Investment Management Services and Trust and Fiduciary Services. “Take a balanced approach and be realistic. If you need to pay the bills, that’s important. But consider putting a little of that money away for short-term emergency needs or retirement.”

PenFed, which has more than 1.6 million members, is participating in America Saves Week by working to educate consumers about the importance of saving. America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Additionally, PenFed is participating in Military Saves Week by encouraging its members to save in its branches on military bases. Military Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the Consumer Federation of America in partnership with the Department of Defense. The Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

Each day during America and Military Saves Week, a new theme was introduced to educate consumers. During the course of America and Military Saves Week, PenFed released survey findings and tips from PenFed financial experts related to savings.

Visit to learn more about how you can save with PenFed Credit Union. Click here to take the America Saves Week pledge. Click here to take the Military Saves Week pledge.

About PenFed Credit Union

Established in 1935, Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is America's second-largest federal credit union, serving 2.9 million members worldwide with nearly $34.6 billion in assets. PenFed Credit Union offers market-leading certificates, checking, credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and a wide range of other financial services with members' interests always in mind. PenFed Credit Union is federally insured by the NCUA and is an Equal Housing Lender. To learn more about PenFed Credit Union, visit, like us on Facebook and follow us @PenFed on X. Interested in working for PenFed? Check us out on LinkedIn. We are proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.


Abagail Chambers
Account Coordinator
+1 724 366 0397

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