Our Own Accounts

By now, we all know some corporations have been too imaginative in stating their finances. Let’s not forget, though, that consumers often engage in their own creative accounting when figuring out what they can and can’t afford. Moreover, when people assess their financial condition, they aren’t necessarily calculating it based on a standard fiscal year. Rather, they may be comparing their condition today with how things were when they got married six years ago, took a new job in 1999 or moved from Pocatello last June. A new Zogby poll is useful in giving several points of reference when asking people if their finances have improved or worsened. As you can see from the chart, adults who feel better off now vs. a year ago outnumber those feeling worse off by a modest margin. But the number feeling better off now vs. four years ago is more than double the number feeling worse off. If nothing else, the numbers tell us consumers have yet to enshrine the late ’90s as a Golden Age.