SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – According to research released by Chase Card Services, a division of JPMorgan Chase, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of “do-it-yourself” among American consumers.

From travel to fitness to managing money, the “What’s on Your Slate?” poll reveals that people are taking steps to achieve their goals – and have fun – on their own terms this year. For example, 46 percent will exercise at home or outdoors instead of at a gym or health club, and 59 percent will pamper themselves at home rather than making visits to a spa or salon.

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In keeping with past years, losing weight and getting in shape tops the list of New Year’s resolutions, with 35 percent of Americans citing it as their number one goal for 2012. When it comes to exercising, nearly half (46 percent) of survey respondents prefer to run or walk outside or work out in a home gym, compared to only 28 percent who choose a local gym or health club.

Nineteen percent of consumers report that managing their personal finances more effectively is their top priority in 2012, and many will consult web-based resources in their efforts to achieve this goal:

  • 56% will take advantage of online coupons from retailers
  • 49% will use online banking or bill-pay
  • 41% will cash in on offers from online group deals

When it comes to making purchase decisions, web-based user reviews surpassed social networking sites and personal conversations as the preferred source of advice: 47 percent of consumers said they most often used online reviews to inform their choices, compared to 28 percent who ask a friend and five percent who turn to social networks.

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American consumers are also taking matters into their own hands when it comes to leisure activities, including vacations. Among the two-thirds of respondents planning getaways during the new year, 41 percent will be packing up the car to head out for a road trip. The recession-friendly concept of an at-home vacation or “staycation” was selected by only 18 percent of vacationers for the coming year, and thirty-four percent of people surveyed said they had no vacation plans for 2012 at all.

As far as other indulgences, 59 percent of those surveyed plan to keep up appearances using at-home beauty products like nail polish or self-tanner. In comparison, 22 percent will make regular salon visits, and only two percent will utilize full-service salon packages. And, nearly one-third of respondents (29 percent) prefer to celebrate a special occasion with a home-cooked meal as opposed to dining in a restaurant.

Despite advances in technology, a number of those polled expressed a desire to get “back to basics” in 2012. Thirty-one percent of consumers cite an old-fashioned phone call as the tool they use most frequently for communicating with friends, although text messaging came in a close second with 30 percent. Email ranked third with 26 percent, and only 13 percent of respondents cited social networks as their primary method of keeping in touch.

When asked about their next big technology purchase, laptop computers topped the list with 21 percent of those polled citing this item. Twenty percent are planning to purchase smartphones, 18 percent will invest in tablets, and 12 percent will go for interactive TVs. However, 29 percent of consumers were not planning to purchase any of these gadgets in the near future.

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Finally, in terms of shopping destinations, almost half of respondents said they make most of their purchases at a department store (48 percent). Online shopping came in second with 29 percent of the vote, followed by big box retailers (17 percent) and local boutiques or specialty stores (seven percent).