Gallup Poll: Savers Outnumber Spenders by Record Numbers

Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 11:29 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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By a margin of 62 percent to 34 percent, Americans get more satisfaction from saving money rather than from spending it, according to the results of a Gallup Economy and Personal Finance poll taken earlier this month.

The saving-spending gap is one of the widest since Gallup began tracking Americans' preferences in 2001. According to Gallup, the saving-spending enjoyment gap narrowed to 19 points in 2012 before jumping back up the past two consecutive years.

The Great Recession widened the gap considerably from years prior. The first year of the poll in 2001, there was just a three-point difference, and even in early 2009 there was still just a nine-point split. The Great Recession is widely considered to have begun in late 2008.

The poll does not measure actual spending or saving habits, according to Gallup, and it does not appeared to be tied to Americans' view of the U.S. economy.

"Americans who are more optimistic about the U.S. economy show little difference in enjoyment of spending or saving compared with Americans who are more negative," according to Gallup.

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Location — not race, age, education, or political party — have the greatest impact on Americans' views, with Southerners showing the largest inclination — 73 percent to 23 percent — to save versus spend, according to Gallup.

Those living in the West have the narrowest gap, with just 51 percent to 45 percent favoring saving over spending.

Americans earning below $20,000 annually are three times more likely to prefer saving over spending, while the chasm narrows for those earning $75,000 or more, to 63 percent who favor saving compared to 36 percent who'd rather spend.

While theoretically there is a large gap in reported saving versus spending enjoyment between stock market investors and noninvestors — 38 percent to 29 percent — there appears to be little difference in actual habits, Gallup reports.

Ditto for Americans with financial woes, evidenced by polling data that found people most worried about money are only slightly more likely to say they enjoy saving compared with those who are least worried.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the personal savings rate in 2013 was 4.5 percent — the lowest since 2007 — a drastic difference from the 1970s, when it measured 11.8 percent, Gallup reports. The 1990s average was 6.7 percent.

"Economists would typically view increases in personal consumption as a positive sign of an improving economy," according to Gallup. "But if the increases in spending are occurring out of necessity, not desire, and Americans take on more debt or deplete their savings, the picture may not be quite as rosy."

NerdWallet.com reports that in the third quarter of 2013, Americans saved 4.9 percent of personal savings as a percentage of disposable personal income.

Savings rate statistics through 2012, according to the site, showed that Americans' median net worth decreased by $49,100 from 2007 to 2010 and that for that same time period, fewer families reported having saved at all.

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