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Consumers cut back on haircuts, coffee

The number of people who have reduced spending in all sorts of little luxuries has increased from 2 years ago.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 11, 2011 11:26AM

This post comes from Seth Fiegerman at partner site MainStreet.


In an effort to cut costs in the face of a tough economy, consumers are trying everything from purchasing fewer name-brand medicines to cutting back on their morning coffee, one new survey shows.


Two-thirds of Americans confessed they purchased more generic drugs this year to pinch pennies, according to a survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted by Harris Interactive, up from 62% who said they did so in an identical survey from June 2009. Likewise, 43% said they had opted to visit their hairstylist or barber less often during that time, compared with about a third who admitted doing that two years ago.


The list of everyday cutbacks doesn't end there. Nearly a third of Americans have canceled one or more magazine subscriptions, 24% have cut back on dry cleaning, and 14% have opted to carpool or take mass transit to reduce their commuting costs, each of which represents an increase in the percentage of consumers who took these steps two years prior.


Even little luxuries are being rationed by ordinary consumers. Roughly a fifth of those surveyed said they no longer purchase coffee in the morning, up from 15% who took that step in 2009, and 39% have opted to refill old water bottles rather than purchasing new ones, compared with 33% who did so two years ago.

As Harris notes in its report, these steps may lead to modest improvements to consumers' bank statements at the end of the month, but there is a downside for the country as a whole.


"While making more careful spending decisions may be good for a household budget, continual cutting back doesn't do much to help the overall economy grow," according to Harris. "It seems a balance will need to be reached to make Americans feel secure in their own household's finances as well as comfortable enough spending to allow the country's economy to grow once again."


More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

Jul 11, 2011 3:45PM
I have some vices, but coffee isn't one of them, so I needn't worry about that.  I've been cutting my own hair for quite some time.  Yes, it's nice to not pay a barber but my primary motivation was to avoid the hassle of getting to the barber shop and the time it takes to wait for a haircut.  I cut my hair at home and even with cleanup it only takes about 20 minutes. 

And, I guess I don't get the whole bottled water thing.  Unless you have well water that is particularly nasty, bottled water is just idiotic.  Incredibly expensive for both the environment and the pocketbook. 

Jul 12, 2011 12:45AM
You're basing the 'economy' on Starbucks (or other bought coffee) and haircuts? You should go get a column on Yahoo =-= same nonsense. Guess you guys get paid by the keystroke, not by the common sense.

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