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What Purchases Give Americans The Most Bang For Their Buck?

Americans admit that only about half (55%) of the purchases they make are “worth every penny,” according to new research.

Americans admit that only about half (55%) of the purchases they make are “worth every penny,” according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that on average, only about 55% of purchases hit the mark, while just 15% admit they’re satisfied by only 20% of their purchases or less.

Even so, almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents have high expectations for every purchase they make.

When asked what purchases gave them the most bang for their buck, many outlined transportation items like a “car”, “vehicle” or “motorcycle.”

Other items make respondents’ lives easier like “a washer and dryer” or “an airfryer.”

But some of those purchases were personal, with one respondent saying “major surgery on the family dog” was worth every penny or even “my marriage license.”

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of financial app Chime for National Finance Awareness Day, also asked respondents how they spend money — whether it be on a whim or budgeted, to treat themselves or out of necessity.

Feel good purchases include food and drink (51%), clothing and accessories (39%), gifts for others (23%), beauty and self care (20%) as well as experiences such as vacations or concert tickets (20%).

Respondents are indulging themselves in these things an average of four times per month and two-thirds (66%) agree that retail therapy has the power to change their mood entirely.

Americans admit that only about half (55%) of the purchases they make are “worth every penny,” according to new research. ANDREA PIACQUADIO/GETTY IMAGES 

Americans reported feeling happiness (63%), satisfaction (48%) and even pleasure (48%) or amusement (15%) after engaging in retail therapy but that high may be short-lived as it only lasts an average of four hours.

But respondents are also forced to pay for “bummer items” like taxes (28%), bills (26%), overdraft and late fees (22%), rent and mortgage (21%) and even car repairs and maintenance (19%).

This results in the average respondent spending money on their least favorite things another four times per month.

The survey also revealed that Americans end up spending money most often out of necessity (44%), followed by reasons like to treat themselves (21%) and for convenience (13%).

But finally getting something after wanting it for a while (50%), it being on sale (41%), a surprise for someone else (32%) or the ability to help create memories with family or friends (30%) can spice things up and turn a purchase from a drag to exciting.

Americans admit that only about half (55%) of the purchases they make are “worth every penny,” according to new research. KAROLINA GRABOWSKA/GETTY IMAGES 

“Finding a little joy or satisfaction in their spending means a lot to people right now,” explained Chime’s Chief Experience Officer Janelle Sallenave. “With 50% saying a purchase feels exciting when they’ve been wanting it for a while or when it’s a gift or surprise for someone else (41%), that tells us consumers are being extra thoughtful to ensure they’re investing in places and on things that matter most to them.”

Americans are plagued by indecision regardless of if they’re shopping in-store or online. Those who find it difficult to make a decision in-store tend to verify that the item is exactly what they’re looking for four times.

On the flip side, when shopping online, respondents check the size, price and materials four different times.

Respondents typically plan their budget about three months in advance, but they will inevitably make about three unplanned purchases each month.

And purchases like fast fashion and cheap clothing (26%), expensive decor and furniture (25%), subscriptions like meal kits or streaming services (25%) and toys and collectibles (25%) have been left in the past because they just aren’t worth spending money on anymore.

“When you work hard for your money, you want to feel good about spending it. ‘I love paying for overdraft fees,’ said no one ever,” Sallenave remarked. “That’s why we believe everyone deserves affordable and fair financial services. We do our best to help everyday people with basic fee-free services so that even when their spending doesn’t delight them, at least their experience spending does.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Chime between July 25 and July 31, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

Produced in association with SWNS Research

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