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STUDY: Americans still spending less, but won’t give up cell phones

Harris Interactive polled 2,576 Americans between January 18 and 25, 2010. Over the last six months, we have decreased our morning coffee purchases and increased brown bagging lunches, but still won’t give up our cell phones.

Harris InteractiveHere’s a brief highlight of some of the findings directly from the study:

  • Almost half (45%) say they are brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it, with 8% having considered doing so; 34% say this is not applicable to them;
  • Two in five (39%) are going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often and 8% have considered doing so;
  • One-third of Americans (34%) have switched to refillable water bottles instead of purchasing bottles of water while 10% have considered doing so;
  • The media is also taking a hit as 33% of U.S. adults have cancelled one of more magazine subscriptions, one in five (19%) have cancelled a newspaper subscription and 22% have cancelled or cut back on cable television service with an additional one in five (20%) having considered doing so; and,
  • One in five Americans say they have cut down on dry cleaning (22%) and stopped purchasing coffee in the morning (21%).

What was amusing though, was that 52% said that they had not or would not consider cancelling their cell phone plan, while 15% have already done so.

Could you give up your cell phone?

I have to be honest, I’ve considered cancelling my plan at the end of the contract this summer. The challenge then though is that we don’t have a home phone and everyone I know has my current number. So I don’t think we’ll be cancelling.

Of course, a two year contract makes it difficult to cancel your contract without paying an exorbitant termination fee. I’m personally very interested in seeing the outcome of the FCC’s inquiries into Verizon and their new $350 termination fee.

Specific results

Harris asked respondents, “Have you done or considered doing any of the following over the past six months in order to save money?” Here’s how America responded.

Harris Interactive Poll

They also dissected the responses by age group. Apparently, older or mature individuals have made fewer cuts.

Harris Pool Consumer Spending

So what are you doing to cut back? Are you returning to any of your old habits? Let us know in the comments.


Tags: , | Filed under Saving Money, Featured


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  • greg

    Odd that the opening paragraph mentions coffee purchases but glosses over the higher proportion cutting back on cable TV.

  • greg

    Odd that the opening paragraph mentions coffee purchases but glosses over the higher proportion cutting back on cable TV.

  • Thanks for the feedback. On a side note, my wife and I have actually sold our TV and are currently lobbying to have the cable removed from our HOA.

  • I have considered ditching my cell phone, but my wife has some say in it, too. Yes, I would have to relearn how to go back to using my work phone for local calls (they don't appreciate their phones for making long-distance personal calls), and getting a landline or using a pre-paid phone card for long-distance calls. I actually went without a cell phone for at least 9 months because my carrier guaranteed service in one particular area and tried to argue with me when I told them I couldn't make or receive cell phone calls in that area because their calling coverage map is smarter than I am, right? Anyway, I had my cell phone disconnected early without “that one fee”. I still have the vital information for the pre-paid phone card with minutes left on it to use if I was stranded some where with only a pay phone or something and I got that 5 years ago.

    But I mean, I've thought it through and I really could do without a cell phone. What about emergencies? one might ask. How often do they really happen? I reply. And if so, how often am I out of reach of a pay phone where I can probably call collect if I need to. One might ask, “Well, what if they need to reach me?!?” I reply that people who regularly call me would just have to relearn what phones I am near at certain hours of the day–work, home, etc.

    It can be done. After all, as my dad has said on numerous occasions, “The phone is for my convenience, not for the convenience of other people.

    Now, as a general rule, we are immersed in a society with current and upcoming generations, which shouts that having a cell phone is a right. The fact remains that it is actually a privilege.

    As for me, I likely won't get rid of my cell phone, but I'd sure like to subtract the bells and whistles off my plan. Do I really, really need texting capabilities? Do I absolutely have to have a color screen with extras like games, planner, alarm clock, fun ringtones and all that other jazz?

    Nope, not really. And I wouldn't mind having an extra 40 or 50 bucks not being taken out of my paycheck every month.

    Just sounding off. Later…

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