9 Years After Recession, Americans Still Feel Frugal

Gallup logoMy grandparents lived through the Great Depression (1929-1939) and it changed their lives forever. As kids, we used to think they were weird. They never threw anything away. Bent nail? “I can hammer it straight again!” Small amount of left-over paint? “You can add thinner and turn it into plenty of white wash.” Hole in a sock? They would darn it! Clearly, dealing with that time of great financial distress changed forever the way they felt about money, spending, and saving.

Since the last recession in 2009, Gallup has been conducting a poll on Americans’ attitude on spending. Read on to see the results – they just might surprise you…

See the results of the latest Gallup poll showing American frugality continues…

This latest research on consumer spending attitudes bears the echo of those times of strife – both 2009 and 1929 as 35% of Americans say they are spending less. Keep in mind, consumer spending is 70% of the U.S. economy, so most Americans saying they are spending less is a real impact on our economy.

And the “Spending less money” category has been the dominant response since the 2009 recession, peaking in 2010 when 57% of Americans said so. Since that time, however, the number of Americans spending less has been declining, and this 35% reading is the lowest level since 2009.

Number of Americans Spending More is Gradually Creeping Up

Graph of Americans attitudes on money

35% of Americans say they are spending less money this year. The same number, 35%, say they will spend about the same, while 30% say they will spend more in this survey by Gallup on Americans views of how they handle their money [Click to enlarge]

Those who say they are “Spending more money” was at its lowest point in 2010 at just 17%. It is hard to stimulate an economy if people aren’t spending money. However, the number of Americans saying that they are spending more money has been gradually creeping up, coming in at 30% in this latest survey. This is the same reading for this category as last year.

Between those two extremes are those who say they are “Spending the same amount of money.” For the first time since 2009, the number of Americans saying that they are spending the same amount of money was the same as those who said they were spending less, or 35% of Americans.

Americans are Still Feeling Frugal

Although these readings are all much better than the extremes felt in 2009-2010, it still suggests that Americans are still feeling frugal, with the majority of Americans spending the same or less. And in fact, in a bit of a deeper dive into these readings. even those who said they were spending more, the majority of them (18%) said their extra spending was only temporary. The remaining 12% said that spending more was their “new normal” spending pattern.

Conversely, of those who said they were spending less, 9% said spending less was only temporary. But fully 26% of them said spending less was their “new normal.” This pattern, according to Gallup, has “been evident over the past 10 years.”

More detail on Americans money attitudes

Those who say spending less is their new normal (26%) is more than twice as much as those who say spending more is their new normal (12%), suggesting that Americans are still feeling very frugal [Click to enlarge]

How Americans View Themselves

This survey is really more about Americans view of themselves, as other government data shows consumers have begun to spend more, not less. But still, if Americans are feeling frugal, it could be a bit of a drag on just how hot the economy could be if they felt more confident about spending their money.

Learn more about Gallup by visiting: www.gallup.com.

About Ted

A sales and marketing specialist - primarily in the technology industry - I've experienced a sort of "circle of life" in business. I've been a mass merchant retailer, a specialty retailer, a specialty manufacturer, a large volume manufacturer, a distributor, and even represented sales representatives. Now the owner of a marketing company that works with a variety of businesses on improving their strategic marketing and business development - I analyze issues from all angles to develop holistic solutions.

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