Americans Still Cutting Back on Small Things

Bringing lunch to work or skipping the morning latte may not feel significant, but the cost savings add up over the long run. A number of Americans have done or considered doing these things and have cut back in other small ways to save money.

Three in five U.S. adults (62 percent) have purchased more generic brands and over two in five (45 percent) are brown-bagging lunch instead of purchasing it. In June, similar numbers of Americans said they were buying generic (65 percent) and brown-bagging it (48 percent).

These are some of the results of a Harris poll of 3,084 adults surveyed online between Oct. 11 and 18, 2010.

Some of the other findings:

- Just over one-third of Americans are going to the hairstylist or barber less often (37 percent) and have switched to refillable water bottles instead of purchasing bottles of water (37 percent).
- In not so good news for the print industry, over one-quarter of adults (27 percent) have cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions while 17 percent have cancelled a newspaper subscription. In addition, one in 10 Americans have considered cancelling a newspaper subscription (11 percent) or a magazine subscription (8 percent).
- One in five Americans have stopped purchasing coffee in the morning (22 percent) and cut down on dry cleaning (21 percent) while 14 percent have begun carpooling or using mass transit.
- Media, entertainment and communication may also have taken a hit in these economic times; one in five U.S. adults have cancelled or cut back on cable television service (22 percent), just under one in five have changed or cancelled cell phone service (17 percent) or cancelled their landline service and are only using their cell phone (17 percent).

Breaking this down by generation, Gen Xers (age 34 to 45) are most likely to purchase generic brands (70 percent), brown bag their lunch (62 percent), go to the hairdresser less often (45 percent) and to have stopped purchasing coffee in the morning (35 percent).

Echo Boomers (age 18 to 33) are much less likely to have cancelled a magazine subscription (18 percent) compared to at least three in 10 of all the other generations who say they have done this, although Echo Boomers are more likely to have cancelled their landline phone service (22 percent).

Financial advisors often recommend cutting back on the little things to save a lot of money. And, in the current economic climate, Americans seem to be listening and saying no to these items. The question is, what happens when the economy turns around? Do they come back and buy that latte in the morning again or has this become a true behavior change?

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