Many consumers improved their money skills in 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has been difficult in a number of ways, not the least of which is the financial challenges it has imposed on many American households. But a recent survey shows many have taken the opportunity to bolster their personal finance skills.

3 in 4 feel they improved their financial skills in 2020

COUNTRY Financial’s survey of about 1,300 U.S. adults found that more than three-quarters of respondents (76%) reported either gaining or strengthening a financial skill during the past year, with the reduction of unnecessary spending being most highly cited. Almost half (48%) said they had made strides on cutting discretionary spending.

The combined response of paying down debt and making debt payments on time was ranked second, with 30% of Americans reporting this improvement, while regularly contributing to savings was close behind at 27%.

See related: Taking financial control amid a global pandemic

Rounding out the top five financial skill improvements were regularly contributing to a retirement account and creating a budget, both reported by 19% of respondents.

In addition, more than half of all respondents (55%) indicated they succeeded in putting some money aside in 2020 for savings and investments. And more than a third of those savers (36%) were respondents who said COVID-19 had negatively impacted their personal finances.

In fact, despite the pandemic, slightly more Americans rated their financial security positively in this year’s survey (55%) than in last year’s survey (53%).

COUNTRY Financial’s survey was conducted in mid-November among 1,330 U.S. adults. Its nationally representative results were released Dec. 1.