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Rising Prices Lead to Changes in Lifestyle and Shopping Habits

AARP Financial Security Trends Survey: Wave 2

In January 2022, AARP launched its Financial Security Trends Survey, which is designed to monitor the financial experiences, behaviors, and attitudes of adults age 30-plus. The survey examines perceptions of overall financial well-being, debt, emergency savings, retirement savings, expenses, and financial worries. Fielded semiannually across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the survey includes oversamples of Black and African American adults as well as Hispanic and Latino adults.  

The most recent survey, conducted in July 2022 among 4,817 adults, reveals the widespread impact of inflation, including increased concern about the ability to afford basic expenses and increased concern about the future.

The survey’s key findings are as follows:

Inflation has taken a considerable toll on everyday finances as demonstrated by increased worries about expenses, changes in lifestyle and shopping habits, and a larger share of adults who feel that they are worse off than they were in July 2021. 

  • In July 2022, one in three (33%) adults age 30-plus indicated their financial situation is worse today than it was 12 months ago, up from 22% in January. Among those whose situation was worse in July, the most common reasons were higher expenses (65%) and a decline in the value of investments (36%). 

  • Close to eight in ten (78%) adults were worried about prices rising faster than income, up from 74% in January. 

  • Eight in ten (80%) adults reported that their transportation and groceries expenses were higher in July than they were 12 months ago, up from 61% and 66% in January, respectively. 

  • In fact, nearly half (45%) of adults age 30-plus expressed worry in July about their basic expenses such as food, housing, and transportation, up from 38% in January.

  • Nearly eight in ten (78%) adults have adjusted their lifestyle or shopping habits in at least one way to help offset the impact of inflation. For example, 45% have cut back on basic expenses and 50% have cut back on "extras."

  • And while some remain optimistic about their financial future, the share of adults age 30-plus who expect their financial situation to be worse 12 months from now increased to 17% in July, up from 12% in January. In fact, a full one in five (21%) adults age 50-plus expect their situation to decline over the next 12 months (July 2022–2023).

Debt, coupled with inflation, continues to burden many adults age 30-plus, hampering their ability to save for the future.

  • Roughly eight in ten adults age 30-plus carry debt from month to month, with approximately four in ten viewing their debt as unmanageable, which is consistent with the January survey. 

  • Over one in three adults with debt stated that they had more debt in July than they did 12 months earlier, while roughly one in four had less.

  • Credit card debt carried over from month to month is the most common type of debt, held by 41% of adults age 30-plus. Everyday expenses continue to be the top reason for credit card debt, with even more attributing their credit card debt to everyday expenses in July (41%) than in January (35%). 

  • Everyday expenses, housing costs, and debt are the top barriers to saving both for emergencies and for retirement. Roughly six in ten adults age 30-plus cite everyday expenses as a barrier to saving, while roughly four in ten cite debt and housing costs as barriers to saving.

With this financial unease, it is not surprising that many adults expect to work in "retirement," primarily for financial reasons. 

  • Among adults age 30-plus who are not retired, more than half (52%) expect either to work in retirement or never retire. Of those who expect to work in retirement, three in four (74%) cite financial reasons for this expectation, while just one in four (26%) cite nonfinancial reasons.

Methodology

These findings are based on a semiannual survey of adults age 30-plus conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago on behalf of AARP. The July survey of 4,817 adults was conducted from July 12 through August 1, 2022. The January survey  of 6,162 adults was conducted from January 7 to February 1, 2022. The sample includes oversamples of Hispanic adults and Black/African American adults.

Data for the general sample were collected using NORC’s AmeriSpeak® Panel, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. To achieve the desired sample sizes of Black adults and Hispanic adults, respondents from the Dynata nonprobability online opt-in panel were included along with AmeriSpeak respondents. The July survey included a total of 1,660 Black respondents and 1,615 Hispanic respondents. TrueNorth® calibration weighting was used in the oversamples to combine the AmeriSpeak and Dynata respondents and reduce bias in the nonprobability sample. 

For more information, contact S. Kathi Brown of AARP Research at skbrown@aarp.org. Media inquiries should be directed to media@aarp.org.

Suggested citation:

Brown, S. Kathi. AARP Financial Security Trends Survey. Washington, DC: AARP Research, November 2022. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00525.001

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