Whether they’re committing to paying down debt or saving more money, most Americans are hoping to make positive changes in their finances in 2017.

More than two-thirds of American adults say that they’re making a financial resolution this year, according to a recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education. They may have good reason to do so: About a third of those surveyed said that their financial life was worse than they expected it to be.

Here are the top five financial resolutions for 2017 reported in the survey of 2,088 U.S. adults, of whom 1,415 (68 percent) said they were making specific plans:

  • Setting and following a budget (27 percent)

  • Making a plan to get out of debt (27 percent)

  • Boosting retirement savings (24 percent)

  • Establishing savings (22 percent)

  • Pulling a credit report/learning how to improve my credit score (12 percent)

Many of Americans’ financial problems reflect a lack of savings to handle unexpected expenses. Nearly a quarter of Americans said that transportation issues were their biggest financial problem last year, while one in five cited housing repairs and maintenance.

“We have to stop looking at unexpected events as not if they will happen, but when they will happen,” NEFE spokesman Paul Golden said in a statement. “Everyone should have an emergency savings, and it should be used for its intended purpose.”

Experts advise having three to six months’ worth of expenses set aside for emergencies.

That may be hard for many people. The NEFE survey found that nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Among them, 24 percent blame credit card debt for their lack of a savings fund, 22 percent cite employment struggles; and 18 percent say they don’t have savings because of their mortgage or rent payments.

This story first appeared on The Fiscal Times.

Published on: Jan 6, 2017