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Consumer confidence is up — here are 3 money moves to make if you’re bullish on the economy in 2024

Americans are more optimistic about where the economy is headed in the new year: The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rose nearly 10% since last month, reaching its highest point since July.
The monthly report surveys 5,000 American households about their expectations for savings, unemployment and the overall economy in the next six months. The latest CCI, released Dec. 20, reached 110.7, up from 101.0 in November 2023.
“It was really a sharp uptick – just about every measure throughout the survey was positive,” said Dana Peterson, chief economist at the Conference Board, the nonprofit think tank that calculates the CCI. “Not only was it the amount of increase that was surprising, but also the breadth of improvement.”
Peterson credits cooling inflation and the recent decline in mortgage rates for consumers’ rosy outlook during the holiday season. Despite some economists still predicting a mild economic slowdown later in 2024, most respondents didn’t believe the US would go into a recession next year.
Optimism about the economy was visible across all ages and income levels, she said, but the gains were largest among households with income levels of $125,000 and above. Consumers’ top issue is still rising prices, according to write-in responses, with concerns about interest rates, politics and global conflicts all receding.
If you’re bullish about the economy in 2024 and expect to have extra money in your coffers, we’ve got some smart financial moves to seriously consider.
Build up your emergency fund
Before you do anything else, it’s always prudent to save for a rainy day. An emergency fund is a savings account with money you can easily access when the unexpected happens.

Experts recommend having three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund, but anything you can regularly contribute is a good start.

A Wells Fargo’s Way2Save Savings account earns 0.15% annually and you only need $25 for your initial deposit. It’s important to be able to access your emergency fund without facing a penalty and the Way2Save account includes six free withdrawals every month.
Plus, Wells Fargo has the most brick-and-mortar locations of any bank in the US, with a branch or ATM within two miles of more than half of US households. How’s that for convenience?

There is a $5 monthly maintenance fee, but you can get it waived if you maintain a $300 balance or set up automatic transfers from a linked Wells Fargo checking account. (It’s also waived if the account owner is 24 or younger.)
A high-yield savings account is a great option for an emergency fund. While the typical savings account has an annual percentage yield (APY) below 1%, an HYSA can reach over 5%.
At a robust 4.65% APY, LendingClub’s High-Yield Savings is one of CNBC Select’s top choices for an HYSA. You can make unlimited withdrawals without a penalty and, if you open the account with at least $100, there’s no minimum balance requirement.
Pay down high-interest debt
Though interest rates are expected to dip in 2024, they’ll likely remain historically high. It’s a smart move to put any extra money you have toward paying off debts, especially any credit cards with high annual percentage rates (APRs).
If you can make regular payments, transferring the balance on a high-interest credit card to one with an introductory 0% APR is a great way to get out of the red. The Amex Everyday Credit Card offers 15 months interest-free on purchases and balance transfers (then a variable APR 18.24% to 29.24%).

There is a charge to transfer your balance —$5 or 3%, whatever is greater — but the Everyday card doesn’t have an annual fee. And cardholders can earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%).
Start investing
Another way to cash in on a robust economy is to work toward a long-term financial goal, like owning a home. A certificate of deposit, or CD, is a great opportunity to save for a milestone purchase you don’t expect to make right away. Some CDs have APYs over 5% and the penalty for early withdrawal is a good incentive to not touch the account.
With no minimum balance requirement or monthly fee, Ally Bank CD has APYs ranging from 3% to 5.15% and terms from three months up to five years. If you renew after the maturity date, Ally automatically rewards you with a 0.05% Loyalty Reward, which will boost your APY slightly.
Bottom line
Americans are growing more optimistic about where their finances will be next year. Make the most of economic tailwinds by building your savings and paying off high-interest credit card debt.
Meet our experts
At CNBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. For this story, we interviewed Dana Peterson, chief economist for The Conference Board.
Why trust CNBC Select?
At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every personal finance article is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of financial products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics.

Dec 24, 2023 13:59
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