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What Are Homeowners Most Willing To Give Up To Cut Costs?

Updated Nov 30, 2022

Updated Nov 30, 2022

Home > Blog > What Are Homeowners Most Willing To Give Up To Cut Costs?

In the United States, homeowners are facing record-breaking inflation rates. Last July, the national inflation rose by 9.1% over a 12-month period, an increase not seen in over 40 years. In September 2022, inflation sat at 8.2%, up 3% from 2021 (5.2%) and 6.5% from 2020 (1.3%). Inflation rates of these levels impact a homeowner’s ability to budget, forcing difficult decisions and financial compromises.

We wanted to see how people are dealing with the current market’s difficulties. To do so, we asked 1,000 homeowners what they would give up to cut back on costs. This article will share our findings along with insights gleaned from the survey results. 

Main Findings

  • Healthcare came out on top as the primary expense homeowners are not willing to give up (23%).
  • The main expense people are willing to cut back on is going to restaurants, bars, or food services (18%).
  • 50% of respondents say groceries and gas are the primary essentials that have been affected by inflation and rising rates.
  • 35% of homeowners have less than $1,000 set aside for repairs, emergencies, and leisure activities.
  • Homeowners without children are 19% more likely to have no money set aside.

What Are Homeowners Most Willing To Give Up?

We first asked homeowners what they were most willing to give up to save money. In total, they had 15 options, which included the following choices:

  • Restaurants, bars, takeout (18%)
  • Vacation/travel (15.8%)
  • Memberships (7.7%) 
  • Streaming platforms/services (7.6%)
  • Savings (7%)
  • Sporting/live events (6.8%)
  • Clothing (5.8%)
  • Home improvement projects (5.4%)
  • Household items (4.6%)
  • Home services (4.5%)
  • Healthcare (4.3%)
  • Hobbies (4.1%)
  • Purchasing or servicing a car (3.3%)
  • Education (2.4%)
  • Pet care services (2.2%)
  • Other (0.5%)

These results show that the most likely expenditure to be cut is restaurants, bars, and takeout, with 18% of homeowners choosing to drop these services. It makes sense that food services would be the first thing most homeowners would go without, as food and groceries have seen the second-highest inflation rate increases across all sectors (excluding utilities and gas). This June saw an increase in food inflation by 12.1% from 2021. The last time the U.S. saw a rate increase of this degree for food was in November of 1981. The only nonessential service that has seen a rate increase greater than food is motor vehicle parts, which has increased 43% since 2021. 

When looking at the age of respondents, we organized them into five specific groups: 18 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, and finally, 55 and up. Here is a quick breakdown of the trends we observed in each age bracket:

  • 18 to 24-year-olds: This group is the least likely to give up restaurants, with only 5% willing to cut back on dining out. However, they are 10% more likely to give up clothing expenditures and savings than the other age groups. These responses are not surprising, as young adults typically have not had the time to build up savings accounts. Furthermore, since the growth of the work-from-home culture and gig economy, the need for higher-end clothing for work has reduced considerably.
  • 25 to 34-year-olds: This generation is 5.5% more likely to give up clothing expenditures than other age groups. But the top expenditure millennials are willing to do without is streaming subscriptions, being 8.7% more likely to cut them out of their budgets. Clothing costs being reduced is no surprise, but it’s interesting that this generation is willing to do without streaming services, even more so than older generations.
  • 35 to 44-year-olds: Out of the 180 people who said they were most likely to give up on dining, takeout, and food services, a whopping 55 are from this demographic. This group is also 6.1% more likely to cut back on home improvements.
  • 45 to 54-year-olds: This age group is the most likely to forgo memberships, being 10.3% more likely to give up clubs, pools, gyms, etc., as compared to only 5% among 18 to 24-year-olds and those 55 and up.
  • 55 and up: Among older adults, the top choice to give up was travel, and they were 23% more likely to give it up compared to other age groups. They also make up 15% of all those who prefer to cut out sporting events and social activities.

 What Are Homeowners Least Willing To Give Up?

  • Healthcare (22.8%)
  • Savings (11.6%)
  • Streaming platforms/subscriptions (7.4%)
  • Hobbies (7.3%)
  • Vacation/travel (6.7%)
  • Restaurants, bars, takeout (5.8%)
  • Education (5.7%)
  • Clothing expenditures (4.7%)
  • Home improvement projects (4.6%)
  • Purchasing or servicing a car (4.4%)
  • Memberships (club, gym, pool, etc) (4.2%)
  • Pet grooming/care (4.1%)
  • Furniture, household items, home decor, etc (3.5%)
  • Sporting/live events (3.3%)
  • Home services (maid service, lawn care, pest control, etc) (3%)
  • Other (0.9%)

Of all costs homeowners are unwilling to cut, healthcare is at the top of the list, with 23% of respondents stating that they refused to give it up. The next most important financial investment for homeowners is their savings, with 11.6% refusing to reduce the money they set aside. Next are streaming services at 7.4%, hobbies at 7.3%, and vacation and travel at 6.7%.

When looking at these figures, it’s no surprise that healthcare is an expense most Americans prefer to keep. Healthcare is one of the most important investments homeowners can make, so much so that we were initially surprised that it didn’t have a higher percentage. In hindsight, considering the wide range of the ages of our respondents, its moderately high number makes sense, as young adults don’t typically invest in healthcare as much as older generations.

As we look at the remainder of the top five entries that homeowners are least willing to do without, we wanted to address streaming services, hobbies, and vacations. We speculate that these have higher percentage rates because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During quarantine, many homeowners could not get out and were functionally isolated from the rest of society. As a result, streaming services and hobbies saw a massive increase in popularity, as homeowners had the time and incentive to invest in them. As for vacations, now that restrictions have lessened, it’s understandable that many Americans would want to get out of the house and travel.

graphic showing healthcare is the primary choice homeowners would not give up to cut costs
Image Source: House Method Team

We observed the following trends when breaking responses down by age:

  • 18 to 24-year-olds: The youngest generation is 11.3% more likely to be unwilling to give up their hobbies, more than twice that of 25 to 34-year-olds and those 55 and up. With many individuals in this age group attending university, it stands to reason that they’re more likely to be invested in leisure activities and spending time with friends.
  • 25 to 34-year-olds: Of all respondents, this age group is 9% more likely to have vacation and travel as their top choice not to give up. Since many millennials are just now hitting their stride career-wise, they may be in a better financial position to travel. 
  • 35 to 44-year-olds: This age range is another generation that values their hobbies and is 8.8% more likely not to give these up, second-highest behind 18 to 24-year-olds. 
  • 45 to 54-year-olds: Gen Xers are most likely to choose healthcare as their top expense to hold on to (27% more likely). They are also 8.9% more likely to not give up streaming platforms.
  • 55 and up: The oldest group on this list puts the greatest investment in motor vehicles, being their top expense to not cut back on. This age group is 9% more likely not to give up on their cars, which is double the rest of the age groups.

How Does Having Children Impact What You Would Give Up?

graphic showing having children can affect what homeowners would give up
Image Source: House Method Team

We wanted to find out how having children impacted budgeting and financial decision-making. Our survey results show parents are much less willing to compromise on healthcare. Specifically, parents are 25% more likely to prioritize healthcare than those who don’t have children. Furthermore, they are more likely to prioritize streaming platforms, as those with children are 8% more likely to keep streaming platforms than those without. Understandably, parents would make both of these investments a priority. Healthcare is essential to keeping yourself and your children in good health, and streaming services are great entertainment for kids.

When asked about savings, parents are more likely to have money for repairs, leisure activities, and emergencies. Our information showed that people without children are 19% more likely to have no money set aside. We can see that parents are more apt to invest money and time in their kids, resulting in higher, on average, saving accounts and less hesitance to get rid of leisure time.

Summary

Unsurprisingly, healthcare is something that most Americans would prioritize when times are tough economically, with 23% saying they would not be willing to cut it. On the other hand, food services, takeout, and dining would be the first to go for 18% of the country, followed by vacation and travel for 15%, and then memberships for 7.7%.

We also saw commonalities between large portions of the population. Regardless of their demographics, many Americans stated their financial constraints were impacted by high inflation, specifically regarding food and grocery prices. Furthermore, while parenthood impacts peoples’ priorities, elements like healthcare affect all parts of the population. We saw that while parents were more likely to prioritize healthcare, they were also less willing to give up leisure activities for their children.  

Methodology

Using a third-party survey platform, House Method surveyed 1,000 homeowners ages 18 and up in the United States to identify what they would be most and least willing to give up to cut costs. We analyzed our results based on age range and whether they had children in the household.

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