Personal Finance

Are your finances better, worse or the same under President Trump? The answers may surprise you 

Key Points
  • Even with lower taxes, very low unemployment and roaring stock market gains, fewer than half of all respondents say their finances have improved under President Trump, according to a survey from investing app Stash.
  • Standing in the way of economic gains: a lack of wage increases, rising health care costs and the impact of tariffs on economy.
  • Men are doing better than women, and this cuts across age groups. And when it comes to older men, they’re even likelier than younger men to report improved finances.
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Investors read the news and then — big surprise — they react.

That's what website Stash found when it looked at how people view the economy and their personal financial situations. The investing app surveyed 6,759 site users online using SurveyMonkey in September, before the current dips of the stock market. No margin of error was calculated for the results.

"Ultimately, it's not surprising that investors react to the news cycles and that their perceptions shift," said Dale Sperling, chief marketing officer at Stash.

But amid a years-long bull market and low unemployment, the study found that a majority of respondents said their finances had not improved under President Donald Trump. Users cited lack of wage increases, and rising costs for housing and health care.

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The Stash results mirror other polls, including a recent Bankrate survey that found two-thirds of respondents said their financial situation had not improved since the 2016 election.

Broken down by gender, though, there is a growing divide of haves and have-nots. More than two-thirds of millennial men said their finances had strengthened over the previous two years. Less than a quarter of millennial women said the same.

This held for all demographics surveyed. Men of all ages said things were better, and women said they were not.

Half of men ages 45 to 64 reported their finances were improved. But the group most flush with confidence and optimism? Men over the age of 65.

Optimism can impact investing decisions, just as pessimism can.

"After [Paul] Manafort and [Rick] Gates were indicted last year, there was a 140 percent increase in customers selling off an ETF called Defending America," Sperling said. "We saw this as signaling disapproval."

Now, men are showing much more enthusiasm for American-focused investments. Twice as many men ages 18 to 24 plan to invest in these companies than women of that age.

The reason could be experience. "People who have been in the market longer have perspective," Sperling said. "They take the longer view. Younger people don't have that experience yet. They don't realize the opportunity in front of them."

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Women expressed a lot of anxiety about their finances. Half of women responding said they were more fearful about their future financial opportunities since Trump took office. Lower salaries could play a part. A TD Ameritrade survey found a growing gap in earnings expectations between millennial men and women.

Another standout: "We wanted to look at the differences between how people invest, whether they are in red states, blue states or swing states," Sperling said. "We thought there'd be a big difference in how people deploy their capital."

Stash used portfolio data from 805,558 users, comparing the largest portfolio allocations, on average, of investors in blue and red states, according to whether the state was carried by Democrats or Republicans in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.

Stash also looked at the political leaning of states, but not party affiliations for individual investors.

But there wasn't much contrast. "Red state voters invested a little more heavily in [the ETF] Corporate Cannabis, which was a surprise," Sperling said. But overall, people invested relatively similarly.

Voters do seem to have a very local hometown bias. "We didn't expect all those states to be loyal to the industries that have their headquarters there," Sperling said.

Home Depot drew an outsized percentage of investment dollars in Georgia. Walmart is a popular buy in Arkansas, as are Altria in Virginia and Starbucks in Washington state. Strangely, Sperling says, Snapchat is popular in North Dakota. The map below shows how investor dollars in each state flow most heavily to companies with headquarters in that state.