MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index: Americans Opt for Fun in the Sun with Well-Being on the Back Burner

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#livemutual–Americans’ bags are packed for summer vacation, whether or not their wallets can spare it, according to the latest Consumer Spending & Saving Index from MassMutual. The quarterly survey captures consumers’ financial habits, beliefs, and predictions in the current environment.


“Attending to the delicate balance of ‘wants’ with ‘commitments’ is very real, and even more real for many in today’s economic climate,’ stated Shefali Desai, head of worksite with MassMutual. “Many may be feeling that to afford a fun summer activity, they must forego other variable expenditures. This presents an opportune moment for employers to help enhance their employees’ overall well-being through voluntary benefits that offer more sustained support that will help keep them on track to manage the unexpected and plan for the future rather than a summer vacation alone.”

Notable findings include:

SUMMER FUN TOPS SELF-CARE

As summer approaches, a quarter of Americans think they will spend more this summer than last summer.

Those expecting a surge in summer spending are eyeing new areas to allocate their funds, including gas, vacations, and local outings.

Gen Z is leading this charge, with one-third saying they’ll spend more this summer compared to Millennials (27%), Gen X (24%), and the Silent Generation (15%).

Despite the enthusiasm for summer activities, many Americans are tightening their belts due to inflation. Dining out, clothing purchases, and indulgences like massages or salon visits are facing cutbacks.

POST-GRAD REGRETS

Amidst the student loan crisis, younger generations are much less likely to view their college degree as a very worthwhile investment compared to older generations (23% Gen Z and 23% Millennials vs. 38% Gen X and 53% Baby Boomers).

Both high school (38%) and college graduates (44%) wish they had started saving for retirement earlier and avoided taking on debt (33% equally).

College graduates are more likely to feel optimistic about their financial futures than high school graduates (54% vs. 39%); however, nearly a third of college graduates regret not investing in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds post-graduation.

UNLOCKING PARENTAL WISDOM

While financial lessons are often taught by both parents, there are gender and generational differences. Like their parents did with them, parents today say they taught (or will teach) their own children the same lessons on personal finances they learned. Younger generations, however, tend to be more honest with their children about their financial mistakes.

62% of Americans agree that their parents did a good job setting them up for financial success. Today, parents help or are planning to help their children learn how to manage personal finances by talking to them about paying bills on time (56%), discussing the importance of budgeting and saving (55%), and encouraging financial independence (47%) – the same most common lessons they received from their parents.

Americans report mothers had a higher level of influence on them learning how to manage their personal finances than fathers, with 59% saying their mother was ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ influential (vs. fathers at 53%). However, fathers are more likely to teach their children how to manage debt compared to mothers (46% vs. 38%).

Younger generations, especially Gen Z, report greater influence from their mothers than older generations. Gen Zers (47%) are significantly more likely to say their mother(s) were ‘very influential’ in their learning about managing personal finances compared to Millennials (34%), Gen X (32%), Baby Boomers (28%), and the Silent Generation (24%).

RECESSION JITTERS RISE WHILE SPENDING HOLDS STEADY

Almost half of Americans believe we are headed towards a recession in the next year, up from over a third last quarter (45% Q2 2024 vs. 37% Q1 2024).

This quarter, the specter of inflation looms larger over people’s finances, with 42% of Americans foreseeing it having the greatest impact on their wallets compared to 37% last quarter.

However, this anxiety has not translated into a major reduction in consumer spending (44% Q2 2024 vs. 47% Q1 2024).

21% of non-retired Americans say they do not ever plan to retire, up from 17% last quarter.

Methodology

The MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index tracks financial outlooks and behaviors in a changing economic environment. It offers an in-depth snapshot of people’s saving and spending behaviors and examines sentiment and attitudes toward navigating the changing state of the economy with an emphasis on inflation, spending, and changes in interest rates. Commissioned by MassMutual, the research was conducted online by PSB Insights from April 10 to 29, 2024, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults (ages 18+). Research was also conducted with an additional sample of 500 adult Massachusetts residents from April 10 to May 3, 2024.

Links to prior indexes:

April 2024 Index
December 2023 Index
September 2023 Index
June 2023 Index

About MassMutual (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company)

MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. Founded in 1851, the company has been continually guided by one consistent purpose: we help people secure their future and protect the ones they love. With a focus on delivering long-term value, MassMutual offers a wide range of protection, accumulation, wealth management, and retirement products and services. For more information, visit www.massmutual.com.

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Contacts

Media:
Paula Tremblay: ptremblay@massmutual.com