March 4, 2009 / 10:11 PM / 9 years ago

Americans cut back on entertainment, medical care

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Entertainment, vacations and eating out in restaurants have taken a hit as Americans look for ways to save money and cut costs.

With unemployment figures rising and tumbling stocks about 70 percent of Americans questioned in a Zogby International interactive poll said they have cut back on their entertainment budgets.

Forty percent also said they are spending less on food and groceries, and 16 percent have gone without medical or prescription drugs in the past year.

“This is a very depressing poll,” CEO John Zogby said in an interview. “I think we have a ways to go in terms of hitting the bottom,” he added.

Discretionary spending and entertainment have suffered the most, according to the survey. Forty percent of people said they have also limited or canceled their normal vacation plans because of concerns about the costs.

Another 40 percent have decided the time is not right to buy major items such as automobiles, homes entertainment electronics, or a computer.

Nearly 80 percent of younger adults, aged 18-29, said they have scaled back on going out, compared to 55 percent of people 65 years and older.

Zogby said younger people are learning to economize. With less experience in the job market and lower salaries they may not have a choice.

Thirteen percent of people under 30 also said that money worries have affected their educational plans in the last year, and nearly 10 percent have decided not to continue their studies.

Even people with higher household incomes of more than $100,000 are cutting costs, according to the nationwide interactive survey 1,474 adults with and without jobs.

Almost 30 percent of people in higher incomes brackets are watching their food budgets, while 64 percent of people earning less than $25,000 have decreased their spending on groceries.

Zogby said one of the most concerning findings of the poll is the impact on healthcare.

Slightly more than a third of people earning less than $25,000 said they gone without medical care, compared to 10 percent of adults in the upper income brackets.

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