Small Ticket Savings and Big Ticket Purchases Both on the Rise

Number of Americans saving money holds steady

Jul 25, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, July 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Clip coupons. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Have those leftovers for dinner before they go bad, instead of ordering out. Carpool to work with a friend – or, better yet, take the bus, or even your bike. Americans are constantly barraged with money-saving tips – and while it's always a good idea not to spend more than you need to, the percentage of Americans looking to save a few bucks in various ways can provide a good read of their attitudes toward the economy. Decreasing incomes and rising fears can both contribute to more Americans embracing easy ways to save money in their everyday lives, while bigger purchases and expenditures can also provide a reflection of economic attitudes.


Majorities of Americans say that they are likely to decrease spending on eating out at restaurants (62%) and reduce spending on entertainment (59%) in the next six months (up from 59% and 55%, respectively, in November of last year). The majority also report that the past six months has found them purchasing more generic brands to save money (62%, up from 57%), while over four in ten report "brown bagging" their lunch instead of purchasing it to save money (44%, up slightly from 41%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,210 adults surveyed online between June 12 and 17, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full findings, including data tables, available here)

Other changes over the past six months which Americans are showing an increasing willingness to embrace (vs. November 2012) in order to save money include:

  • Switching to refillable water bottles instead of purchasing bottles of water (38%, up from 33%);
  • Cancelling or cutting back cable television service (24%, up slightly from 21%);
  • Cutting down on dry cleaning (22%, up from 18%);
  • Cancelling landline phone service and only using a cell phone (20%, up from 16%); and
  • Changing or cancelling cell phone service (17%, up slightly from 14%).

While not every money-saving change showed much growth from last year, all at least held steady, with no declines emerging:

  • Roughly four in ten Americans (39%) report going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often (38% in November of 2012);
  • Three in ten (29%) report cancelling one or more magazine subscription (27% last November);
  • Over two in ten (22%) stopped purchasing coffee in the morning (20% in 2012);
  • Nearly two in ten (18%) cancelled a newspaper subscription (16% in November, 2012);
  • 15% began carpooling or using mass transit (14% last November).

Big ticket spending poised to rise

While Americans may be increasingly implementing many types of frugal habits in everyday life, increasing percentages predict they'll likely be making big ticket purchases in the coming six months; this despite little change in the percentage anticipating they'll have more money to spend the way they want in the next six months (31%, relatively unchanged from 30% last November) and no change in the percentage anticipating they'll save or invest money within that period (50%, identical to November 2012 findings). Looking at some larger expenditures U.S. adults anticipate in the next six months:

  • Over one-third of Americans (35%) say they will likely take a vacation away from home lasting longer than a week, up from 29% last November;
  • One-quarter (25%) anticipate buying a new computer; a nearly identical 24% said this last November;
  • Over two in ten (22%) anticipate moving to a different residence (up from 16% last November) and 8% anticipate purchasing a house or condo (up slightly from 6% last November);
  • 16% expect that they will buy or lease a newly manufactured car, truck or van (up from 13% in 2012) and 7% anticipate buying a boat or recreational vehicle (up from 5% last November); and
  • One in ten U.S. adults (10%) plan on starting a new business (8% in November, 2012).

When these questions were fielded in November 2012, the fiscal cliff and a potential government sequester were on the immediate horizon. These newer findings indicate that while Americans' expectations of disposable income growth may not be on the rise, they may be unwilling to put off important purchases forever – and may instead be turning to the smaller changes they can make in everyday life to enable these larger purchases.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 12 and 17, 2013 among 2,210 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #48, July 25, 2013
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive

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SOURCE Harris Interactive