Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Saving bit by bit but in our own way

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While the economists have declared the recession over, most people I know are still trying to figure out how to keep their spending in check, stretching the money they have, and trying to build up an emergency fund if not retirement savings.  

Below is new research from Harris Interactive that gives a great birds-eye view of some of the steps we’re taking to continue to change our spending ways.  The similarities and differences across the generations are interesting:

 *  Moving to generic brands to save money seems to be equally popular whether you are 20 or 70.   

*  Seniors and boomers are more likely to cancel magazine subscriptions. *  Seniors aren’t willing to give up their land-line telephones, but the young adults are increasingly ready to be cell-phone only.   

*  Young adults are finding the wisdom of the brown bag lunch as a way to keep more money in their wallets. *  None of the generations were willing to cut back on cell-phone service demonstrating how critical it’s become to our life.   

A couple observations about the list: 1.  Some spending priorities are very representative of generational behaviors and values, so not all cost cutting recommendations are created equal.   If you’re trying to help someone with budgeting, older or younger,  let them work from their own priorities and preferences.    

2.  Even small amounts add up.  And just as importantly you’re helping get your spending and saving back in balance – living within your means.  That’s particularly important as we come off years of consumption on credit and find our way back to moderation and cash.  Among the things I gave up was the morning latte coffee – almost $20 per week — does add up over time though at the time I never much thought about the habitual stop at the coffee shop.  Still treat myself occasionally but it’s off the must have to the nice to have. 

“Have you done or considered doing any of the following over the past six months in order to save money?” 
Percent saying “Have done”
Base: All adults   
  Total  Generation 
Echo Gen. X Baby Matures
Boomers (34-45)  Boomers  
(18-33)    (46-64)  (65+
Purchasing more generic brands  63 60 66 63 61
Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it  45 51 56 46 20
Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often  39 39 43 38 35
Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottle of water  34 40 37 31 28
Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions  33 24 31 36 45
Cut down on dry cleaning  22 18 24 21 27
Cancelled or cut back cable television service  22 24 26 22 14
Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning  21 25 27 19 14
Cancelled a newspaper subscription  19 16 20 20 20
Changed or cancelled cell phone service  17 19 20 17 11
Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone  15 20 16 15 6
Begun carpooling or using mass transit  14 26 16 7 4
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding   

Results of the Harris Poll of 2,576 adults surveyed online between January 18 and 25, 2010 by Harris Interactive.


Written by Laura Rossman

February 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm

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