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Nov 1, 2022
Debt and Inflation Likely to Impact Spending This Holiday Season
Survey of adults age 30 and older shows increased worry about personal finances and uncertainty about the future

WASHINGTONNew AARP research found that 33% of adults age 30 and older said their financial situation is worse than it was a year ago, up from 22% in January. And 35% of adults age 65 and older said their financial situation is worse, up from 13% in January – a startling 169% increase.

A significant majority of adults age 30+ (78%) said they have adjusted their lifestyle or shopping habits due to inflation. Nearly half (49%) of women and 41% of men reported cutting back on basic expenses such as food and transportation, while 53% of women and 46% of men reported cutting back on ‘extras.’ These cuts, combined with a slowdown in consumer spending and the recent decline in consumer confidence, could translate to less spending this holiday season.

Growing debt could also contribute to a potential decrease in holiday purchases. The AARP survey found the average amount of credit card debt in July was just over $7,100, with more people attributing their credit card debt to everyday expenses in July (42%) than they did in January (35%). Roughly 4 in 10 respondents said their debt is unmanageable.

“Consumers of all ages are feeling the impact of inflation. Many living on a fixed income have had to cut back on basics, while others have struggled with debt or delayed their retirement plans altogether,” said Gary Koenig, Vice President of Financial Security at AARP. “Rising prices not only impact consumer spending, it makes managing debt and saving for the future a steeper hill to climb.” 

Additional key findings include:

  • Large, unexpected expenses are the type of expense that cause the most worry with 62% of adults expressing concern. And 45% are worried about affording basic expenses, up from 38% in January.
    • Women were more likely than men to be worried about both large, unexpected expenses and basic expenses.
  • Among adults age 50 and older, 1 in 5 (21%) expect their financial situation to decline over the next year.
  • Among those who are not yet retired, more than half (52%) expect to either work in retirement or to never retire. Of those who expect to work in retirement, 3 in 4 (74%) cite financial reasons.

AARP’s Financial Security Trends Survey examines how adults age 30 and older view their financial situation, including their ability to cover expenses, manage debt, and build savings for emergencies and retirement. This semiannual survey compares findings from July 2022 to those from January 2022.

To view the full survey results, visit

For additional insights on this research, read Gary Koenig's new blog post, Empowering Financial Health During Uncertain Economic Times.

This survey of adults ages 30+ was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago on behalf of AARP.  The most recent wave was conducted from July 12 through August 1, 2022 with a total of 4,817 respondents. The first wave was conducted from January 7 to February 1, 2022 with a total of 6,162 respondents. For the general sample, data were collected online and by phone using NORC’s AmeriSpeak® Panel, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. Sample from NORC’s AmeriSpeak® Panel was supplemented by nonprobability sample from Dynata’s panel in order to achieve the necessary sample size for African American/Black respondents and respondents of Hispanic origin. The final sample was weighted by age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, and census division using March 2021 Current Population Survey benchmarks for adults ages 30+. The weighted data reflect the U.S. population of adults age 30+. The margin of error is +/- 2.57 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for the July overall survey sample and ± 2.29 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for the January overall survey sample.


About AARP:
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.

For further information: Alex Guerin,, 202-710-0472