Months before the start of the holiday season, Americans are keeping their wallets shut, a new survey finds.
Two-thirds of Americans say they aren’t spending as much as they could each month, according to the poll released Tuesday by Bankrate.com. And they may keep spending down even as they enter the holiday season, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “People just don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around,” he says.
The most common reason people gave for keeping their wallets closed: They’re waiting for a raise. Thirty-two percent of people polled said stagnant income was their biggest concern. The next most common reason given, cited by 29 percent, is that people are trying to save more. And 16 percent said they were worried about the economy. (Bankrate.com surveyed about 1,000 people over the phone from Oct. 2 to Oct. 5.)
Worries increased with age. People ages 30 to 49 — a time when people are coping with tuition payments, car payments and child-care costs — were the most likely to say they are limiting their monthly spending. And seniors were three times as likely as those 18 to 29 to say stagnant income was the main reason for cutting back.
Retirees and people approaching retirement are especially strained because they are dealing with record low interest rates on bonds, which are often a primary source of income in old age, McBride says. Older consumers were also more likely to be worried about the economy than any other group.
It makes sense that pay would be the No. 1 concern. As I’ve previously reported, most workers have seen hourly wages stay flat — or fall– since the recession. For college graduates, wages fell by 2.5 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to the Economic Policy Institute. For high school graduates, they fell by nearly 5 percent.
One bright note: Young people are saving more. Millennials were most likely to cite the need to save as their main reason for cutting down spending. Younger consumers, who are also less likely to own a credit card, and may be overwhelmed by student loans, recognize the importance of having emergency savings. “Many of them are building a solid financial foundation,” McBride says.