New Year's Resolution Reversal: Financial Fitness Laps Physical Fitness

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67% of American adults commit to save more in 2008 - Clinical Psychologist Dr. Melody Alderman: 'Financial health is key to stability in relationships and greater overall emotional health'

The good news for consumers is that it's easier than ever to save their hard-earned money

Come January 2008, instead of hitting the gym to get in shape more Americans will go to their savings bank to get serious about their financial fitness, according to a national survey conducted by InsightExpress for Countrywide Bank, FSB, the third largest federal savings bank in the U.S.¹ and a member of the Countrywide (NYSE: CFC) family of companies. More than two-thirds of respondents (67%) said that becoming more financially fit, and thus, saving more money, is a top 2008 New Year's resolution, while slightly more than half (57%) committed to becoming physically fit.

"The biggest obstacle people face in achieving physical and financial fitness is developing consistent and long-term healthy habits," said Countrywide Bank Managing Director Pierre Habis. "Fitness trainers will tell you that achieving and maintaining good physical fitness requires commitment, and that sticking to a regimen is the fastest way to a healthier you. Becoming financially fit is no different - setting, keeping and automating your savings is vital to achieving financial fitness."

Of the 1,002 adults surveyed, a greater number (32%) believe financial fitness is more important than physical fitness (21%), yet less than half of Americans surveyed (46%) believe they are currently financially fit. Respondents were also asked which type of fitness was harder to achieve. Although responses were about equally split on each type of fitness, respondents agreed on why each goal was difficult to achieve - developing consistent and disciplined behaviors.

Specifically:

  • 43% of respondents who said financial fitness was harder to achieve listed "consistency and discipline, doing what I'm supposed to on a regular basis" as their first or second obstacle out of 10 listed.
  • 57% of respondents who said physical fitness was harder chose the same reason as their first or second obstacle.
  • 44% of respondents who said physical and financial fitness are equally hard to achieve chose the same reasons as their first or second obstacle.

"I believe there is a strong correlation between financial security and physical and emotional well-being," says Dr. Melody Alderman, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Woodland Hills, Calif. "People who save money on a regular basis, regardless of the total amount they have in the bank, are less likely to battle anxiety, depression and have money be an issue in their relationship. In my view, the results of the survey are an indicator that people are finally putting financial health on par with physical health."

They survey also found the following:

Gender, parenthood and annual income are drivers in perceived financial fitness
Fewer women than men (37% vs. 55%) believe they are financially fit.

  • 51% each of dads and people without children believe they are financially fit, while only 30% of moms believe they are financially fit.
  • 69% of those with an annual income of $100,000 or more believe they are financially fit (51% for $50,000 - $99,000 and 33% for those earning less than $50,000).

Parenthood drives a gap between perceived physical and financial fitness

  • 50% of Americans believe they are physically fit, and 46% believe they are financially fit.
  • 50% of parents believe they are physically fit, while 36% believe they are financially fit.
  • 44% of moms believe they are physically fit, while 30% believe they are financially fit.

Marriage has a bigger impact on perceived financial fitness than on physical fitness

  • 51% of married people believe they are physically fit, while 39% believe they are financially fit.
  • 49% of unmarried people believe they are physically fit, and 50% believe they are financially fit.

"The good news for consumers is that it's easier than ever to save their hard-earned money," said Habis. "Many banks, including Countrywide Bank, today allow customers to open and fund accounts online, transfer money online from a primary checking account into a high-yield savings or money market account at a different institution, and automate the amount and frequency of deposits." Habis continued, "These 'set it and forget it' features remove the 'consistency and discipline' obstacle that has traditionally prevented people from building their nest egg."

Survey Methodology
On behalf of Countrywide Bank, FSB, InsightExpress fielded a survey to 1,002 online respondents, all of whom were American adults age 18+. The survey was conducted from November 27 through December 3, 2007. The survey results are statistically weighted and balanced to conform to 2002 US National Census demographics. The research has a ±3.1% Margin of Error at 95% confidence for the full 1,002 survey population, and a ±4.4% Margin of Error at 95% confidence for demographic, attitudinal and behavioral subgroups.

About Countrywide Bank
Countrywide Bank, FSB, is a member of the Countrywide Financial Corporation (NYSE: CFC) family of companies. Countrywide Bank offers consumers highly competitive rates on certificates of deposit and money market accounts and, through its family of companies, also offers investment* and insurance products. Customers can review banking products and services, check rates on deposits, and apply for new accounts by phone, online, or at one of more than 180 financial centers located throughout the country. In addition, the company offers the same superior rates and unsurpassed personalized service to its business customers through its Premier Business Banking and Commercial Banking Divisions. For more information about Countrywide Bank, visit http://www.countrywidebank.com. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

¹ Ranking is based on Second Quarter 2007 as reported by the FDIC.

*Countrywide Investment Services and Countrywide Insurance Services Products

Not FDIC Insured | Not Guaranteed By Any Bank | Not A Deposit | May Lose Value | Not Insured By Any Federal Government Agency

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