Are we flat-out lying to pollsters, or is this simply a case of wishful thinking?
Americans say they enjoy saving money more than they enjoy spending it, yet we’re saving less.
A Gallup poll published Monday says that 62 percent of Americans say they enjoy saving, while only 34 percent say they enjoy spending. This is up from 2013, when 60 percent of Americans said they enjoy saving and 37 percent said they enjoy spending.
On paper, it looks like Americans have learned something from the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession, as the gap between those who say they enjoy saving and those who say they enjoy spending is the widest it’s been in the past 15 years. Up until the recession, the percentages of those who said they enjoy saving and those who enjoyed spending were much more in line (54 percent said they enjoy saving in 2009, while 44 percent said they enjoy spending).
“However, this trend is not necessarily indicative of actual behavior,” notes Gallup in the release. “Although Americans, since 2009, have been significantly more likely to enjoy saving, or perhaps more likely to feel guilty about spending, their views have not been evident in their real-world behavior.”
In 2013 the average personal savings rate was 4.5 percent, the lowest since 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The U.S. personal average savings rate was 11.8 percent in the 1970s, 9.3 percent in the 1980s and 6.7 percent in the 1990s.
Those who do invest their money are more likely to do so in the real estate market than in stocks or mutual funds. With the housing market improving across the country and home prices rising after the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis, 30 percent of surveyed Americans say real estate is the best long-term investment, followed by 24 percent who opt for gold, and 24 percent who prefer stocks and mutual funds.
Investors typically think that stocks can go down and money can be lost, says Brian Levitt, a senior economist at Oppenheimer Funds, on his blog. “But investors might find that over longer term time periods, the broad stock market has posted negative rolling returns far less often than they might think.”
Enjoying saving money is one thing, but most experts say that Americans should start actually saving at a higher rate, and long-term investing in the stock market may be one of the best way to do so.
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