CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More Americans than ever are planning to make financial New Year's resolutions for 2014, but experts say it will take discipline to stay on the right track.
Fifty-four percent of Americans were planning to make a finance-related resolution this year, according to Fidelity Investments' 2014 New Year Financial Resolutions survey. That total is up from the 35 percent who were considering financial resolutions in 2009.
"These findings suggest individuals are taking more control over financial matters, leading them to feel better about their personal situations, which is a great way to ring in the new year," said Ken Hevert, vice president of retirement products at Fidelity.
"Making financial resolutions, such as saving more and paying off debt, can have a tremendous impact on the financial and emotional well-being of a household, so it's encouraging to see that so many Americans intend to build a stronger financial foundation in the year ahead," Hevert said.
The top finance-related resolution for 2014 was to save more money, with 54 percent saying that was their specific goal. That was up from the 46 percent who made saving money their top priority in 2012.
Twenty-four percent said their goal was to pay off debt this year, an increase from the 19 percent who made the same goal last year. It was also the first time paying off debt was ranked second among financial resolutions for the year.
Survey authors said the emphasis on debt reduction steadily improved over the last five years, increasing threefold since 2010, when only 8 percent of those making financial resolutions made it their goal.
Other financial resolutions for the year included spending less money (19 percent), developing a long-term financial goal plan (13 percent), making and sticking to a budget (12 percent) and paying down credit card debt (8 percent).
The survey did find a shift among those who said they hoped to save more this year, with more saying they hoped to save for more short-term goals, such as paying down credit card debt or building an emergency fund, than in previous years.
About 39 percent of savers were targeting short-term goals this year, up from 29 percent last year.
Those targeting long-term savings goals, such as saving for retirement or college, fell to 53 percent from 65 percent the year before.
Fidelity said while this could mean less money was being earmarked for long-term planning, it was also possible more people recognize the importance of balancing between short- and long-term goals.
"The financial crisis of five years ago forced many people to wake up to the importance of preparing for whatever may come their way," Hevert said. "This year's findings suggest people are increasingly recognizing the importance of achieving a balance between meeting near-term financial goals and planning for the long term."
He also hoped the results meant people have learned to avoid other, more costly moves, such as tapping into their retirement fund to lower debt payments or to just have short-term cash on hand.