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Older Adults Expect to Dig Deeper into Their Wallets in 2024

NORC Article

Foresight 50+

Foresight 50+ by AARP and NORC offers deep insight into the views and behaviors of Americans 50 and older.

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January 2024

Older adults anticipate spending more across a range of expenses despite no increased income in 2024, according to a new Foresight 50+ Omnibus.

Half of adults 50 years of age and older believe their 2024 household expenses will be higher in 2024 than in 2023, but only a quarter expect their income to increase. One in five older adults expect their household debt will be higher next year as well. 

Despite these financial concerns, the most popular new year’s resolutions among older adults focus on health, not finance. 

Adults are expecting more of the same, with increasing expenses outpacing income.

Overall, 56 percent of adults 50 years of age and older believe their finances will stay the same in 2024 as they were in 2023. While 26 percent believe their finances will improve, 17 percent believe their finances will get worse.  

That outlook includes the expectation that household expenses will continue to outpace increases in income. Half of older adults anticipate their personal expenses will continue to increase into 2024. Only 24 percent believe their income will be higher, and 18 percent believe their debt will be higher in 2024.

*Half of older adults believe their household expenses will be higher in 2024 than they were in 2023. A graph shows that 52% of adults believe their household expenses will be higher in 2024 than in 2023, 40% believe they will be about the same, and 5% believe they will be lower than in 2023.   24% of adults 50 and over believe their household income will be higher in 2024 than in 2023, 62% believe it will be about the same, and 13% believe it will be lower than in 2023.   18% of adults 50 and over believe their household debt will be higher in 2024 than in 2023, 55% believe it will be about the same, and 26% believe it will be lower than in 2023.   16% of adults 50 and over believe their household investment contributions will be higher in 2024 than in 2023, 65% believe they will be about the same, and 17% believe they will be lower than in 2023.   16% of adults 50 and over believe their household savings contributions will be higher in 2024 than in 2023, 60% believe they will be about the same, and 21% believe they will be lower than in 2023.   Source: Foresight 50+ conducted November 9-13, 2023, with 1,039 adults nationwide.*

Older adults are anticipating increasing expenses from food and groceries, healthcare, housing, and transportation. Nearly 60 percent of older adults believe they will spend more on food and groceries in 2024 than they did in 2023, while a third or more believe the same about healthcare, housing, and transportation.

Interestingly, despite expecting rising expenses, many older adults are still planning to spend on discretionary items. Almost 50 percent said they will spend the same amount or more on domestic travel and vacations, about 60 percent will spend the same or more on entertainment, and 75 percent will spend the same or more on clothing and fashion. It’s clear that despite increased costs, this group still has money to spend. 

Surveyed older adults are also generous. Almost 70 percent of them say they will continue to give the same or more in donations to charity.

Food tops the list of expected increases in spending for 2024 among adults 50 and over. A graph shows that when it comes to food and grocery spending in 2024 versus 2023, 58% believe they will spend more, 34% believe they will spend the same amount, 5% believe they will spend less, and 1% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to health care, including prescription drugs and medications in 2024 versus 2023, 38% believe they will spend more, 50% believe they will spend about the same, 6% believe they will spend less, and 4% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to housing, home renovation, and home improvements spending in 2024 versus 2023, 35% believe they will spend more, 41% believe they will spend the same amount, 11% believe they will spend less, and 12% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to transportation spending in 2024 versus 2023, 33% believe they will spend more, 51% believe they will spend the same amount, 9% believe they will spend less, and 5% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to domestic travel and vacations spending in 2024 versus 2023, 25% believe they will spend more, 37% believe they will spend the same amount, 12% believe they will spend less, and 24% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to international travel and vacation spending in 2024 versus 2023, 18% believe they will spend more, 52% believe they will spend the same amount, 8% believe they will spend less, and 21% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to personal health and well-being spending in 2024 versus 2023, 18% believe they will spend more, 52% believe they will spend the same amount, 8% believe they will spend less, and 21% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to clothing and fashion spending in 2024 versus 2023, 14% believe they will spend more, 51% believe they will spend the same amount, 24% believe they will spend less, and 9% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to entertainment spending in 2024 versus 2023, 14% believe they will spend more, 44% believe they will spend the same amount, 17% believe they will spend less, and 23% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to sports activities and leisure spending in 2024 versus 2023, 10% believe they will spend more, 35% believe they will spend the same amount, 12% believe they will spend less, and 41% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes charity or donations spending in 2024 versus 2023, 9% believe they will spend more, 58% believe they will spend the same amount, 12% believe they will spend less, and 20% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to caregiving, including childcare and caring for adult relatives spending in 2024 versus 2023, 9% believe they will spend more, 18% believe they will spend the same amount, 7% believe they will spend less, and 64% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   When it comes to education spending in 2024 versus 2023, 7% believe they will spend more, 16% believe they will spend the same amount, 8% believe they will spend less, and 67% believe they won’t spend on this at all.   Source: Foresight 50+ conducted November 9-13, 2023, with 1,039 adults nationwide.

In spite of their mixed 2024 financial forecast, older adults are focusing on health-related new year’s resolutions.

Older adults report exercising more, eating a healthier diet, and losing weight as their top three new year’s resolutions. Though older adults have concerns about their 2024 finances and expenses, more traditional resolutions around wellbeing beat out financial ones for new year’s resolutions. Financial health is still a goal for some with 21 percent resolving to save more and 11 percent who want to take better care of their personal finances in 2024. 22 percent reported not having any new year’s resolutions.

*Older adults are most commonly focusing on their health-related new year’s resolutions. A graph shows that when asked what their top three new year’s resolutions are, 33% of adults 50 and over said they want to exercise more, 28% said eat healthier, 28% said lose weight, 21% said save more money, 19% said spend more time with family, 15% said travel more, 12% said take care of my mental health, 11% said take better care of my personal finances, 10% said read more, 10% said spend more time in spiritual or religious practices, 10% said spend more time with friends, 5% said volunteer more in my community, 4% said less screen time, 3% said being more environmentally mindful, 3% said drink less alcohol, 3% said stop smoking, 2% selected other and 33% said they didn’t have any new year’s resolutions.   Source: Foresight 50+ conducted November 9-13, 2023, with 1,039 adults nationwide.*

These findings come from online and telephone (landline and mobile) interviews with 1,039 U.S. adults on the Foresight 50+ Omnibus Survey November 9-13, 2023. The margin of sampling error was +/- 4.2 percentage points. The Foresight 50+ Omnibus survey uses the probability-based panel, Foresight 50+, which was developed by AARP and NORC.

This is part of a new series of Foresight 50+ Omnibus panel surveys focused on amplifying the voices of people fifty and over. Now more than ever, policymakers and others need this type of scientifically rigorous and readily available data in real time to help them improve policies and programs for an aging population. The Foresight 50+ FastTrack series—a set of periodic insights using the panel—will meet this need by regularly providing key findings and insights on an array of topics that might otherwise be unavailable to the public. The series will also showcase ways in which your organization can use the panel to answer your questions about the highly influential 50+ demographic.  

The large Foresight 50+ panel can oversample a variety of target groups, such as Medicare beneficiaries, grandparents, frequent travelers, and others. Combined with our affordable TrueNorth methodology, Foresight 50+ can incorporate data from lower-quality sample sources to gain insight into even smaller subpopulations, such as people with food allergies, veterans, and those with various health conditions.

For more information on our other surveys, or to learn how we can customize a survey of this demographic to your needs, visit our website or email Foresight50-bd@norc.org. To learn more about how NORC delivers objective, nonpartisan insights and analysis that decision-makers trust across other issue areas and demographics, explore our website

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