Why Do We Save?
Lots of people are saving more these days, although the reasons aren't necessarily ones to cheer about. And the people doing the most saving aren't necessarily those you might expect to be doing so, either.
That's according to a new Bankrate.com study of whether and why people are saving/spending less/more, and the surprising news is that millennials are coming out at the top of the saving heap.
According to the report, the Bankrate Financial Security Index survey found that three out of every five U.S. adults are limiting their monthly spending. Most of them say it's to boost their savings, and surprisingly enough that's particularly true for Americans aged 18 to 26. An equally surprising 74% of them say they need to put more money away.
People are not comfortable with the current state of finances — theirs or the economy's — but there are plenty of reasons for them to up their savings rates. But they’re also feeling better about some aspects of finance, and it's telling to see which areas of their lives they’re now more comfortable with.
Bankrate.com checked into what's worrying people and why, and came up with which groups are winning and which are losing at savings, as well as what's driving them to modify their behavior.
Here's a look at 8 big reasons people are saving more:
8. Other. While there's no way to know what these “other” reasons are, a surprising number of people chose this category as their reason to cut spending and save, with 16% of those aged 18 to 29, 64% of those aged 50 to 64 and 20% of those 65-plus picking this option as their response.
No one in the 30 to 49 age group admitted to this one, though.
7. Frugal/on a budget/no desire to spend money. Only the oldest respondents cited this combination of reasons to save more, spend less — with 45% of those between 50 and 64 and 34% of those 65-plus choosing these.
Women made up the majority, at 75%, and no one in the younger age groups 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 admitted to simple frugality — which highlights what other studies have found: That older women have to function on less money as they age.
6. Less income. While 1% of respondents cited this, it's probably because saving is tough enough on a regular income. If that income shrinks, it's going to be even tougher.
And given that a portion of each age group reported being unemployed — 15% for the 18 to 29 crowd, 20% for the 30 to 49 group, 24% of the 50 to 64 group and 41% of the 65-plus crowd (not those who indicated they were retired) — or working just part time, that could also account for it.
But it's not just those unexpected expenses; nearly half of all households don't have enough retirement money put aside to keep up their current standard of living in their later years, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
4. Worried about job security. While 4% of respondents indicated that they’re concerned about their continued employment status, for them that was enough to boost savings and cut spending. Interestingly, men are more worried about job security, at 67%, than women at 33% — as are those aged 30 to 49, 58% of whom are concerned about their longevity on the job.
They’re also the age group most concerned with having too much debt — a scary prospect: Worried about debt and employment at the same time.
3. Worried about the economy. Ten percent of respondents are concerned enough about the economy to shave their spending. In fact, the Bankrate Financial Security Index fell in October for the second month in a row, to 103.1. While any reading over 100 indicates improved financial security compared with a year ago, the current reading is still the lowest since January.
And although Americans’ feelings about their job security, net worth and overall financial situation — three of the five components making up the index — have gone up from where they were 12 months ago, comfort levels with savings have gone down. Debt comfort levels have not changed.
Women, incidentally, are more concerned about the economy than men, at 64% compared with 36%. Those aged 50 to 64 are the most concerned age group, at 38%, followed by 34% of those aged 30 to 49.
2. Too much debt. Credit card debt is at an all-time high, Bankrate said, as are student loans. Business Insider said it's now higher than it was just before the 2008 financial crisis hit — and it was at an all-time high then. A Federal Reserve report released in August said that outstanding revolving credit, which includes credit-card debt, rose to $1.02 trillion in June.
And while so far foreclosures haven't challenged the heights they reached in the financial crisis, credit card and auto loan defaults are rising. In the first quarter, the New York Federal Reserve saw a 7.5% increase in the share of credit card balances that were seriously delinquent, or at least 90 days past due.
So it's not surprising that 13% of respondents said that's the reason they’ve cut back spending.
1. Income hasn't changed. The lack of pay raises has hit people hard, with 27% overall of respondents saying that's why they’re stashing more cash. When the needle doesn't move upward on the income meter, that can make it tough to meet all the expenses whose needles are going up — health care expenses chief among them.
So people are doing their best to lower their spending levels to compensate.