February 3, 2011
2/3: NYC Families Face Tough Budget Decisions
Many New York City residents are feeling the economic pinch and some are making difficult decisions to meet their expenses. One in five residents in the city — 20% — report they have delayed or have not gone to the doctor when they should have during the past 12 months in order to help manage their family’s budget. Not surprisingly, income factors into the decision. One in four residents who earn less than $50,000 annually — 25% — have not gone to the doctor due to financial concerns compared with 16% with higher annual incomes.
Additionally, about one in five city dwellers — 19% — have forgone or put off purchasing needed medications in the past 12 months to make ends meet. Once again, income comes into play. More than double the proportion of residents who make less than $50,000 a year — 25% — compared with those earning more — 12% — have gone without medicine they needed.
“Government is trying to learn to live within its means, but it’s a lesson many New Yorkers already know all too well,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
Money matters have also forced 15% of New York City residents to relocate in the last year. Here, too, income matters. Nearly one in four residents with income below $50,000 — 23% — report they have relocated to save money. Only 5% of families with higher incomes have done so.
And, 23% of New York City renters have had an added concern during this difficult winter. This is the proportion of renters who have had to complain to their landlord about a lack of heat in the past month. 26% of lower income renters, compared with 15% of those who earn $50,000 or more annually, have had to contact their landlord to turn up the heat.
City Dwellers Cutting Back on Non-Essentials
Although their choices or circumstances may not be as dire, many New York City residents are cutting back. A majority of residents — 52% — have put off purchasing big ticket items like a home, car, or major appliance due to financial worries. Majorities of residents, regardless of income, have delayed making a major purchase.
Smaller purchases have also been put on the financial chopping block. About seven in ten adults — 69% — have opted out of buying new clothes to make ends meet. Included here are 75% of those who earn less than $50,000 and 65% of those who make $50,000 or more annually.
It is home cooking for nearly two-thirds of New York City residents. 64% say they have eaten out less in the past year to stretch the value of a dollar. While 70% of residents who make less than $50,000 report this to be true, even a majority of those who earn $50,000 or more — 58% — have made fewer restaurant reservations.
Nearly six in ten residents — 59% — have cut their entertainment budget to save some extra cash.
And, 62% of New York City residents who vacation report they have taken fewer trips or have vacationed closer to home in the past year to help manage their family’s budget.
On a positive note, New Yorkers are trying to live within their means. A slim majority — 51% — report they have been able to put aside what they can for a rainy day. Most New York City residents who have or use credit cards report they have tried not to increase their credit card debt during the last twelve months. 42% state they have “charged it” less. Only 12% say they have pulled out the plastic more to deal with their personal finances in the past year. 46% say they have used their credit cards about the same amount as they have in the past.
Glimmer of Optimism about Personal Finances but Worries Remain about NYC Economy
Despite the financial sacrifices Big Apple residents have been making, many are optimistic about the future of their personal finances. 43% think their family financial situation will get better in the coming year, and an additional 44% expect it to stay about the same. Just 13% believe their money matters will get worse.
But, when it comes to the status of the New York City economy, a plurality of residents — 43% — think it is about the same as it has been. About one-third — 34% — believe it is getting worse while more than one in five — 23% — report it is getting better.
The Marist Poll’s Barbara Carvalho discusses the millions of New Yorkers making sacrifices due to money woes: