Poll: NJ consumer confidence stagnant for 2015
Just one in seven respondents said their finances improved last year. More than a quarter said they worsened. For the rest, their personal economic picture remained the same.
Looking at the year ahead, 17 percent predicted a worse financial year than last.
Tinton Falls resident Teresa Sabello associated herself with the "negative outlook" list. She's been recently informed about a higher property tax bill headed her way.
"It's going to hurt, so we're buckling down because we don't know where that's going to put us," she said.
Janice Smith of Asbury Park also shared low hopes for 2015, citing a spike in health care costs.
"The older we get, the more that will cost," she said. "Then God forbid you have to use it."
More than half of survey respondents said the new year will bring no changes to their financial situation. A quarter said things should improve, compared to 2014.
Red Bank resident Ricky Tharrington said he's looking forward to a better year because he's been saving for decades.
"My kids are grown and it's just me and my wife, and everything's paying off well," he said.
Beyond the initial findings, the poll hinted at an increase in discretionary spending among New Jersey consumers. For the second year in a row, the poll said, respondents spent more on major purchases - cars, trips, home improvements - than they had anticipated a year prior.
Maria Jones of Long Branch, though, hasn't been able to join in the fun. She can't remember the last major purchase that was based on "want," rather than "need."
"I have two kids in college and that's who I spend my money on," she said. "If you want to retire, you have to make some adjustments."
Tim McWalters of Spring Lake Heights spent $30,000 on his new Jeep Wrangler. It was an extravagant purchase, he admitted, but not one he regrets.
"It was basically a retirement package," he said. "And my kids love it."
According to Krista Jenkins, executive director of PublicMind, the new numbers suggest a sense of "stabilization" in New Jersey, given no big spikes or drops compared to past surveys.
"In order for things to turn around, they first have to stabilize," Jenkins said. "And the fact that we've had two years now of things certainly not worsening, I think that's good."