Question: What area of your life have you cut back on most?
Break out the slow cooker―people are reining in their restaurant budgets; 37 percent of people who answered this question are cutting back primarily on eating out. Nineteen percent of respondents say that their foremost cutbacks are on clothing, while 15 percent say their main trims are in entertainment and 11 percent point to travel. Though 65 percent of responders say they would cut back wherever necessary, there are certain everyday indulgences some are apt to keep: Transportation, gas, taxis, and household services (like child care and cleaning) lead them.
The RealSimple.com poll was conducted via SurveyMonkey.com from February 18 to March 12. There were 26,944 respondents.
2 of 5Rick Lew
Creative Gift-Giving Is a Must
Question: Are you buying fewer gifts as a result of the economy? How has the economy affected your charitable giving?
It’s not shocking that the philanthropic spirit has taken a backseat to survival mode. Sixty percent of responders say they are, in fact, buying fewer gifts; another 24 percent reported that they are buying the same number of gifts, but spending less on them.
People are split on their goodwill giving: Though more than half of respondents (52 percent) aren’t making as many donations to charity, 43 percent say the economy hasn’t impacted their charitable giving. (Surprisingly, 5 percent say they’re giving more.)
Question: If you had $10,000 what would you do with it? How has the economy affected your mood? Do you think the economy has affected you or your partner more significantly?
Things may not be as bleak as they seem. In this classic what-if game, nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) say they would put the money in the bank. Another 38 percent would use it to pay off debts, while an impressive 10 percent are looking toward the future and would invest the money in home improvement.
On a scale of being scared, worried, or unaffected, the middle road was the most popular choice: 67 percent say that they’re a little worried about the state of the economy. But the majority of the respondents―69 percent―answered that they are taking the economic blows harder than their significant other.
Question: How has the economy affected your shopping habits? Do you use coupons more because of the economy?
Not even the ubiquitous sale signs are enticing respondents to spend. While 18 percent of those surveyed say they are shopping more to take advantage of bargains, about 67 percent are shopping less to save money. It's no secret that a good way to trim your bill is to use coupons, and 26 percent of those surveyed have always used them and will continue to do so. Thirty-eight percent are now following suit, using coupons more, while 36% are skipping the clipping.
Question: How has the economy affected your long-term plans? When do you think the economy will start to turn around?
Though unsurprisingly money problems are in the forefront of everyone’s mind, a good number aren’t worried about the future: 47 percent of respondents say that the economy hasn’t affected their long-term plans. Still, 23 percent say that their retirement plans have been impacted, 12 percent are deeper in debt, and many other respondents voice concern about their ability to pay for college. But there is hope, as 34 percent foresee an economic upswing in a year.