Affected by the financial crisis and recession in the past years, Americans have reversed the trend of lavish spending as they are saving more than spending, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
Sixty-two percent of respondents say they prefer saving money over spending, compared to 33 percent who say the opposite, according to the Dec. 3-4 poll conducted just after the annual Thanksgiving shopping mania.
Americans used to be faulted for conspicuous consumption and lack of savings, but now most of them prefer saving over spending in a change that has become more obvious since the 2008 recession.
Though self-reported spending is up overall this year, with additional gains through the Thanksgiving week, Americans don't necessarily perceive themselves as spending more, Gallup noted.
The poll shows 40 percent of Americans say they are spending less in recent months than they used to, compared to 28 percent who report spending more, and 30 percent who say spending the same amount.
But the percentage who say they are spending less has declined substantially from the post-recession period from 2008 to 2010, including a peak of 57 percent in 2010. "This suggests many Americans no longer feel much of the pressure to save that they felt during the recession," Gallup said.
Americans' new-found enjoyment of saving corresponds with a reduction in overall household debt. In early 2009, even as the percentage who preferred saving money had risen to nearly six in 10, household debt as a percentage of GDP hovered around 98 percent. In the past five years, with the preference for saving continuing, household debt has fallen to 81 percent, according to Gallup.
The poll also finds that spending less could be a new normal for Americans for years to come. Among the 40 percent who are spending less money, 28 percent say this will become a new normal pattern, while 12 percent say this will be only a temporary change in spending patterns.
The survey, based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,017 adults, has an error margin of 4 percent.