How Americans use their money

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

How people spend their money seems to have endless fascination for those who take polls and those who read about them. ``Americans and Their Money'' is the fifth annual survey conducted by Money magazine to reveal some national attitudes and behavior about money. Findings were based on mail questionnaires completed by a nationwide sample of 2,250 adults who are the chief financial decisionmakers in their families. Sixty-two percent of the respondents were men, and 38 percent women.

The survey was conducted and analyzed by Dr. Sy Lieberman of Lieberman Research Inc., New York. Among his findings:

The items that most people feel are most overpriced are doctors' fees, cars, car insurance, lawyers' fees, housing costs, and interest charges on credit cards. The item that people are least apt to think is overpriced is airline travel.

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Money issues that married people argue about most often are decisions about what to spend money on, going beyond the budget, whether to spend a little or a lot on things, and whether to give or lend money to relatives or friends.

Although 2 out of 3 people said they made an effort to ``buy American,'' many said they were confused as to which brands were American-made and which were imported.

Although consumer savings and investments have increased, 1 person out of 10 still reports he has no savings or investments at all.

Consumer loans and consumers' use of credit cards are both down from a year ago, in part because interest charges on them are no longer fully deductible under the new tax program.

The annual survey also shows that women have less money, think and worry about it more often than men, and are far less familiar with common money-management and investment terms.

Because home equity loans are one of the remaining types of loan that are still fully deductible, they are becoming more popular. Ten percent of homeowners have taken out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, and an additional 6 percent are considering taking one out in the next year.

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