Getting By on $35 a Day in Retirement

Retirees spend far less daily than working Americans


Retirees spend far less money in a typical day than working Americans. A Gallup survey released today asked U.S. consumers to report how much they spent yesterday, excluding normal household bills and major purchases such as homes and cars. Those born before 1930 spent just $35, compared to $50 for the silent generation born between 1930 and 1945, $64 for baby boomers, $71 for generation X, and $61 for millennials.

The highest spending among Generation X is not a function of greater income, but of children living at home, Gallup says. Members of generation X and the baby boomers reported similar levels of income, but 71 percent of Gen X'ers have children under age 18, while only 25 percent of baby boomers still have young children. Parents generally spent about $20 more daily than non-parents in 2008 and 2009, Gallup found. But once the kids are out of the house, spending appears to decline steadily as Americans approach and enter the retirement years.

Nonetheless, all of the generations have significantly cut their daily spending since last year. The greatest generation shaved $28 off their daily expenses since 2008 when they typically spent $63 a day, according to telephone interviews with over 260,000 adults between January 2008 and June 2009. Baby boomers and the silent generation both now spend $34 less daily than before the recession began. Generation X, the biggest shoppers in the survey, also made the deepest cuts in their spending, eliminating $39 from their consumption. And millennials weren’t far behind, giving up $31 worth of purchases.

Tell us, will you be able to get by on $35 a day in retirement?