After a year in which most people claimed to be spending less — and many were actually doing so! — Gallup polling finds Americans easing away from austerity as their default position. While the economy may not be robust, austerity fatigue seems to be setting in for lots of consumers.
Gallup has been asking people to say whether they’ve been spending more money, less money or about as much in recent months as they’d been accustomed to doing. The “spending less” figure fell under the 50 percent threshold (to 47 percent) earlier this month, after having been as high as 57 percent in February. Still, those in the “spending more” category remain very much in the minority, even as that cohort rose from 17 percent in February to 22 percent this month.
Among the poll’s 18-29-year-olds, 39 percent said they’ve been spending less in recent months, vs. 49 percent of both the 30-49 and 50-plus age groups. There was less disparity than you might expect among different income cohorts.
Among those making less than $30,000 a year, 52 percent said they’ve been spending less, as did 48 percent of the $30,000-74,999s and 45 percent of those in the $75,000-plus bracket. Marital status was as much of a dividing line, with 50 percent of married respondents and 43 percent of unmarrieds saying they’ve been spending less.
Another question in the same poll gives a hint that many people who’ve been economizing have had their fill of doing so. Respondents were asked whether they’re “the type of person who more enjoys spending money or who more enjoys saving money.” “Saving” has had a big lead over “spending” through much of the past year, topping it by 62 percent to 35 percent in February. In the new poll, “saving” is still ahead of “spending,” but by a much narrower 50 percent to 44 percent.