Cutting out a latte here or a dinner there makes many of us feel like we're making smart money decisions, but it's the bigger, harder-to-make choices that will result in serious savings. Lifestyle choices like downsizing a home, getting rid of a car, or opting for a less expensive college will have a far more dramatic impact on personal finances.
Just a quarter of people who took part in a new survey said they were trimming their housing expenses or college savings, according to a recent Ameriprise poll, Financial Trade-Offs. By comparison, more than half of those surveyed said they were cutting back on everyday expenses such as eating out, entertainment and clothing, allowing them to save an average of about $175 per month. But cutting back on larger-ticket items could yield savings worth twice that.
"It can be difficult to make adjustments to your expenses in order to save more, but the extra cash can really add up over time to make a big impact," Ameriprise's vice president for wealth strategies Suzanna de Baca said in a statement.
The survey included responses from Americans ages 25 to 67 who had at least $25,000 in investible assets and access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. It looked at 18 discretionary expenses, everything from personal care to electronics.
Among the respondents, millennials were more likely than baby boomers or Gen Xers to consciously cut back on all 18 expenses, but they were also more likely to take on debt while trying to balance other financial goals. More than three-quarters of millennials reported that their car payments or credit card bills have made them feel stretched financially.
Despite their cost cutting, just 59 percent of millennials (versus 75 percent of boomers) have a monthly savings plan, and only 57 percent of millennials with access to employer-sponsored retirement plans are contributing enough to take full advantage of their employers' match.
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