A new study suggests ‘spenders’ are happier with their life, but ‘savers’ are wiser.
The poll of 2,000 American shoppers found 56% of Americans consider themselves to be “spenders” — splurging for things they really want, while 34% identified themselves as “savers” who won’t shop until what they want goes on sale or becomes a necessity.
Meanwhile, 10% didn’t claim to be either kind of shopper.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, spenders were found to spend more money on non-essential items during any given week by nearly double of what savers spend ($621, compared to $348).
In turn, savers were found to set aside less of their total income towards non-essential purchases than their spender counterparts (18%, compared to 22%).
Compared to savers, spenders were also found to be happier with their relationships (78% and 63%, respectively), work life (78% and 57%, respectively) and personal life (77% and 71%, respectively). Interestingly, spenders were also happier with their financial life than savers (73% and 56%, respectively).
But savers might have the upper hand when it comes to managing their money — only 29% of their total annual income is used on miscellaneous purchases, while spenders are using up 38% of their income.
Commissioned by Citizens Pay and conducted by OnePoll, the study also found 59% “often” and “always” think through the financial impact of big purchases before deciding if they’re worth buying. And despite their proclivity for spending, spenders are more likely than average to consider the financial impact of a big purchase (61%).
The items people think through and research the most are personal electronics (59%), vehicles (50%) and vacations (40%). For 32% of spenders, fitness or recreation equipment is a highly considered purchase, whereas 34% of savers are likely to do their homework before purchasing household appliances.
Before making big purchases, respondents often consider how long the purchase will last them (61%), how often it will be used (57%) and if they’re getting the best price (55%). Three in 10 consider the availability of financing or pay-over-time options before making a big purchase.
Big purchases were then defined as “any purchase” that exceeds $1,762, on average, and many of those purchases warrant nearly 12 hours of research beforehand. On average, people will postpone their big purchase decisions 17 days to wait and see if it goes on sale.
“In a way, it makes sense that people feel happier when they’re spending more,” said Christine Roberts, EVP and President at Citizens Pay. “But spending more isn’t necessarily the same as spending responsibly. What’s really important is the level of consideration people have and the impact their purchases have on their financial livelihood.”
Results found some universal commonalities for all shoppers, as well.
Over a third (37%) said they plan out their budget on a weekly basis, with 9% doing it daily. Two in three of these budgeters claim they’re “strict” with their spending plans.
Many respondents shared similar personal financial goals, including building a retirement plan (53%), building an emergency fund (52%), building an investment portfolio (47%) and affording a home (41%).
Three in four also claimed it was easy for them to discern the difference between the things they “want” and the things they “need.” Of course, 78% agreed it’s satisfying when purchases can be considered both.
Four in 10 (40%) also indicated that they were already planning out their holiday budget for this year, setting aside an average $1,792 for gifts.
Among those planning ahead for the holidays, spenders are already planning to purchase 13 items, compared to 9 items for savers.
Three-quarters (74%) of these holiday shoppers claimed they were good gift-givers, while only 8% that admitted they were terrible at it.
Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) are planning on using buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) or pay-over-time services for holiday shopping purchases this year. However, 43% noted they do not use these services more during the holiday shopping season compared to the rest of the year.
“The holiday season is a prime time for people to spend a lot of money all at once,” continued Roberts. “We recommend that people create a comprehensive budget for themselves and ask themselves what factors satisfy their holiday buys, either for themselves or for people they plan to gift.”
TOP FACTORS CONSIDERED FOR BIG PURCHASES
- How long it will last – 61%
- How often it will be used – 57%
- Am I getting the best price/deal – 55%
- What warranties it comes with – 52%
- What it will be used for – 45%
- How necessary it is right now – 32%
- Financing or pay-over-time options – 30%
- How it will impact my budget – 30%
- If it will improve my lifestyle/livelihood – 26%
- If it will improve my health – 20%
- How often it goes on sale – 18%
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American shoppers was commissioned by Citizens Pay between September 7 and September 9, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).
Produced in association with SWNS Research
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