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Americans are Spending More, Cutting Back Less

NEW YORK (MainStreet) We're feeling better, a bit less stressed and beginning to loosen our grip on discretionary dollars. So says a Harris Poll of over 2,000 adults, who say they are a bit more confident in their financial prospects and cutting back less.

Forecasting their spending over the next six months, Americans are less likely than a year ago to say they plan on spending less eating out (56%, down 6 percentage points) or reduce spending on entertainment (53%, down 6 percentage points). Women are a bit more fiscally conservative though, admitting they are more likely to cut their budget for free time fun. Men are also more likely than women to plan on taking a vacation lasting longer than a week (40% vs. 34%).

Overall, Americans still aren't likely to save or invest more in the short term. Just half of the respondents say they plan to be prudent.

However, younger adults are planning to have it all: saying they are saving more and spending big. Millennials are more likely than any other generation to say they plan on saving or investing more money (64%). And Gen Y says (38%) they also expect to have more money to spend any way they want over the next six months. Baby Boomers (29%) and older Matures (28%) are more pessimistic about having extra cash to burn.

Millennials and Gen-Xers (15% and 12%) are also more likely than Baby Boomers or Matures (6% and 2%) in planning to buy a house or condo soon.

Americans are cutting back less when compared to one year ago, as well. Of those surveyed, fewer plan on buying generic brands (down 6%), brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it (-5%), canceling magazine or newspaper subscriptions (-5%) or cutting back on dry cleaning (-5%). A little more than one-third (35%) say they'll make fewer trips to the hairdresser, stylist or barber, down 4% from last year.

Of course, having children can quickly break a budget. Comparing households with kids to those without reveals respondents who are more likely to brown bag lunch (48% vs. 36% of single households), cancel landline phone service (22% vs. 15%), change or cancel cell phone service (20% vs. 15%) and start carpooling or using mass transit (17% vs. 9%).

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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