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Solid Index Findings: Finances Have Kept 40 Percent of Americans From Achieving the Things They Want in Life

Lack of Financial Education and Budgeting Can Have Implications on Lifestyle and Summer Vacations

PRNewswire
ATLANTA
Jun 25, 2009

With the start of summer, travel plans looming and news continuing about a slow-to-rebound economy, SunTrust Banks, Inc. released today the results of the latest Solid Index - revealing that 40 percent of Americans' finances have kept them from achieving the things they want in life, while another 50 percent say they have recently spent less time or money on enjoyable activities because of money concerns. Despite this, Americans still maintained the same optimism felt in April's Solid Index when asked how "solid" they felt about the state of their personal finances.

This survey was the second in a series that seeks to understand the ways money and finances influence consumers' daily lives, states of mind and emotional connections. It specifically looked at budgeting and financial planning behaviors and how those impact lifestyles and plans to vacation over the summer - revealing that one in two (48 percent) Americans have had to change or scale back their travel plans because of finances; and 42 percent are considering taking a "staycation" rather than a vacation this summer.

Even more startling, findings of the Solid Index uncovered that nearly one-third of Americans are unaware of how much money exists in their accounts at a given time. This, coupled with the fact that a quarter of Americans have no system in place for budgeting or tracking, could explain why millions of summer vacations are likely to be significantly curtailed or not taken at all.

"Budgeting has never been more important than it is now," said Rilla Delorier, chief marketing officer for SunTrust. "Despite the economy, people still deserve to enjoy life. We know that when people have a strong command over their finances they are likely to live a more stress-free and solid life."

In addition to affecting summer plans, the Solid Index also found that many Americans are unsure of how to deal with their financial issues, and are living with a high degree of financial uncertainty, and the emotions that coincide with this anxiety. Nearly 60 percent of adults say they have recently engaged in negative behavior to escape financial woes:

  --  More than one-third of Americans have tried to sleep off financial
      concerns
  --  One in three say have made poor food choices to deal with the
      financial pressures
  --  Roughly a quarter of consumers have made an unnecessary purchase
      despite their concerns
  --  Some Americans even report skipping work or consuming alcohol as
      recent escapes

Delorier added, "Many of these financial concerns and consequent coping mechanisms can be allayed through proper financial education. In fact, our survey showed that nearly one in two (46 percent) people are looking for more financial education resources for their families and themselves. SunTrust is working with our clients to help them address their needs in a personalized way, so that they have the knowledge they need to live solid."

Despite some of the negative results of increased financial worries, the study showed continuing optimism when respondents again averaged a score of 6.1 out of 10 when asked how "solid" they feel about the state of their personal finances; and nearly three-quarters feel they will be in a better financial situation in six months.

The Solid Index was conducted by StrategyOne as a five-question, single wave telephone omnibus survey among a census representative sample of 1,000 American adults aged 18 and older. The next wave of SunTrust's Solid Index will be released this August.

About SunTrust Banks, Inc.

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of March 31, 2009, SunTrust had total assets of $179.1 billion and total deposits of $107.5 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, equipment leasing and capital markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is suntrust.com

First Call Analyst: Putnam, Eugene
FCMN Contact:

SOURCE: SunTrust Banks, Inc.

CONTACT: Hugh Suhr, SunTrust, +1-404-827-6813, or Yona Benstock, Edelman
for SunTrust, +1-404-460-1491, yona.benstock@edelman.com


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