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Gallup-Spending-Patterns-by-Generation-Aug2014Some 45% of American adults claim to be spending more today than they were a year ago, with Millennials (51%) most likely to be loosening the purse strings, per survey results from Gallup. Interestingly, this increased spending comes despite a general tendency across generations to be unwilling to spend more on items they don’t need. The extent to which respondents are increasing – or decreasing – spending varies by category and generation.

When it comes to clothing, Millennials are the most likely to be spending more (31%) and the least likely to be spending less (27%). In fact, the propensity to be spending more on clothing decreases with age, per the survey results.

It’s a different pattern for leisure activities, where Millennials are most likely to be spending both more (29%) and less (37%), while Baby Boomers are the least likely to be doing both. That suggests that spending in this area is mostly flat for Boomers while cleaving in one direction or another for Millennials. With a growing share (estimated at 39%) of the nation’s discretionary spending at their disposal, though, Baby Boomers are expected to increase their spending on experiences such as travel and dining out as they age into retirement, as a recent MarketingCharts Debrief on Baby Boomers attests.

Baby Boomers, meanwhile, are the most likely to have increased their spending on healthcare (50%), home maintenance (39%), and household goods (37%), according to the Gallup study.

The Gallup study follows other recent research into spending behavior, which has found that:

Overall, while about 1 in 10 Gallup survey respondents from each generation strongly agreed that they spend money right away when they get some, a majority in each generation save for Millennials (42%) strongly disagreed. Millennials were also least likely to strongly agree that they only shop for exactly what they need. In other words, while Baby Boomers have the money to spend, Millennials for now are the ones that seem to be taking a more liberal approach to spending – at least on discretionary items.

About the Data: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 9-15, 2014, with a random sample of 1,029 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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