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Spending less is new normal to 32 of Americans
PRINCETON, N.J. (7/23/09)--Spending less and saving more have become even more entrenched as the "new normal" for many Americans surveyed this month by the Gallup Poll. That can impact both loans and savings at credit unions. July's results show little significant change from Gallup's April spending/savings habit study. In the July study, 32% of Americans surveyed reported that spending less will become a "new normal" for them in the years ahead, while 8% say they'll be spending more. That leaves 60% of Americans who haven't changed their spending habits during the survey period. Continued savings by members will find their way into credit unions as deposits, but less spending also means consumers and members are still waiting to see what the economy will do before they finance that new car or remodel their home. "Clearly there will be at least some negative repercussions on consumer lending going forward," said Gallup's report. "But at the same time, two-thirds of Americans say that they have not changed their spending habits, that their spending changes in recent months will not be permanent in the years ahead, or that they will actually be spending more." The impact of these stated intentions depends on how much the individuals would have spent in the first place, before deciding to decrease spending. "The economy would be affected more by a decrease in spending among previously high-rolling millionaires or affluent suburban families than it would by a downward shift among the same number of low-income, low-spending senior citizens," said Gallup's report. The poll contains one surprise: There weren't major differences in the impact of the recession across income groups. Those who said their new normal is to spend less were across the board in income. However, lower-income respondents were slightly more likely than higher-income Americans to say their new normal pattern would be spending more. On the savings end, one in four Americans say saving more is their new normal. In both the April and July surveys, about one-fourth of people polled said they recently have been saving more and that this is their new normal. Roughly 10%-13% said they'll save less. Data on saving showed more variation due to income than the spending data did. Higher income people are more likely to save more because they have more discretionary income that can be earmarked for savings than lower-income Americans. Gallup did include a caveat: it is difficult to know just how firmly Americans will stick to their projections when the economy does pick up and unemployment drops. "Good intentions to restrain spending and to save more could go out the window if the U.S. returns to flush and vibrant economic times," the report said.
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