Americans are using historically low interest rates to refinance their loans as a form of personal stimulus during the pandemic.
“Mortgage volume is at record levels, and has been for quite some time and continues to crest upwards in terms of demand,” Brendan Coughlin, head of consumer banking at Citizens Bank, told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.
“It’s a form of stimulus, if you will, with rates at historic lows, consumers can restructure their debt and get some payment savings,” he added.
The same trend is playing out with student loan refinancing where rates have plummeted.
“Twenty-five to 35-year-olds are taking advantage of rates dropping very, very substantially to lock in those historic low rates and get themselves some cash payment savings,” said Coughlin.
“So consumers are hunkering down on spending, but they’re taking advantage of the low rates to stimulate better health in their personal balance sheets.”
Coughlin also sees “dramatic changes in behavior” around debit cards spending.
“We’re down about 40% year over year. The ticket sizes are up significantly. The number of transactions are down. sizably,” said Coughlin.
“When they do have to go out, they’re spending a little bit more. So instead of going to the grocery store three times a week, they’re going once every two or three weeks,” he added.
Teenagers ‘current situation is significantly impacting their plans for college’
Some teenagers say they’re planning to delay their start to college or changing their school choice due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Bank.
“About 44% of those that we surveyed said that the current situation is significantly impacting their plans for college,” said Coughlin.
The survey found 30% of those teenagers impacted will delay their start to school, and 13% said they changed their school selection because of COVID-19.
“I think on the positive side. .. 72% of college-aged students are now talking to their parents about how they finance school and how they pay for it, “ said Coughlin. The dialogue about how to pay for college is up from just 40% a couple of years ago.
“Just two or three years ago, there was a very big divide where it was very clear that the majority of Americans, their children and their parents were not having what we’ve sort of called is “the other talk” around their finances,” said Coughlin. “That is changing rapidly.”
Ines covers the U.S. stock market from the floor of the New York Exchange. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre