Most Americans Still Prefer Saving to Spending

May 18, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Household Income | Spending Trends

Some 59% of Americans say they prefer saving money to spending money, compared with 38% who favor spending, according to the latest Gallup survey on financial habits, fielded among 1,019 adults. This represents a 6-point drop in the share of savers from last year’s high of 65%, and a corresponding 5-point increase in spenders.

Even with that drop, the results show a clear preference for saving over spending, something that has stood fast since at least the turn of the century.

Meanwhile, more respondents claimed to have been spending less money in recent months (36%) than spending more (30%), although the gap between these groups has been closing back to early 2014 levels.

Another notable finding is that almost one-quarter of adults who reported spending less money recently anticipate that this will become the new normal for them. Likewise, 20% of those who reported spending more money than usual claimed it was just a temporary change in spending patterns. This apparent frugality makes some sense in light of separate results revealing that an overwhelming majority (85%) of Americans are watching their spending very closely.

Indeed, the culture of spending has shifted to a saving-centric one, especially for those who are worried about paying their bills. More spending data released by Gallup finds that 63% of Americans who are under financial strain enjoy saving more than spending, up from 46% in 2005-2006. The difference between spenders and savers was minimal back then, but financially strapped consumers have changed their tune in recent years and embraced saving to a much greater degree than they have in the past.

Another shift since the early 2000s has been for Millennials, who have gone from a preference for spending to a desire to save, per earlier research from Gallup.

About the Data: This report was based on cell and landline phone interviews conducted on April 5-9, 2017 with 1,019 adults age 18 and older in the US.  Phone numbers were selected using random-digit-dial methods.

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