When the pandemic forced many Americans to reshape their living and working conditions, some took the opportunity to proactively shape their financial futures.

According to Northwestern Mutual’s latest 2021 Planning & Progress Survey, around a third, or 32%, of Americans say they are more disciplined with their money and 95% expect it to stay that way.

The annual survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual, includes responses from over 2,300 adults over a 10-day period in March 2021. The survey found that almost one in five U.S. adults had no budget before the pandemic beaten. But 83% of Americans say they either created, revised, or adjusted their financial plan during the pandemic.

The habit most commonly developed by survey respondents is reducing their cost of living and spending. 45% of the respondents said they had adopted this habit.

The second most common habit, adopted by 34% of respondents, is debt settlement. In 2020, Americans paid off $ 82.1 billion in credit card debt, and in the first quarter of 2021 they paid off an additional $ 56.5 billion in credit card debt, according to personal finance website WalletHub.

Many Americans also started investing more, with 33% making this a habit during the pandemic.

But debt settlement and investments aren’t the only adjustments Americans are planning. The survey found that 25% are considering increasing their savings and pension contributions.

Of course, there were still many disadvantages. Almost half of Americans, 45%, say the pandemic affected their timeline for achieving financial security by a year or two, while 35% delayed major financial or vital decisions.

While improvements in financial habits are positive, it shouldn’t overshadow the fact that adjustments for many come from a place of financial hardship, Christian Mitchell, executive vice president and chief customer officer at Northwestern Mutual, said in a statement.

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