Everyday Americans are increasingly drowning in things they no longer need or want, yet there is a widespread struggle to meet household expenses on time every month. That’s according to a new study released recently by OfferUp.
The report, “Buried: The State of Stress and Stuff,” polled more than 1,000 Americans across the country as well as residents in 10 major cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta and Dallas. The results offer a startling look at a nation that struggles to balance financial insecurities with a desire for fewer things. The study was conducted by ClearVoice Research and commissioned by OfferUp.
Key findings include:
- Nearly half (48 percent) of Americans consider their homes to be at least somewhat cluttered with items they no longer use
- One in seven Americans have a room in their home they cannot use because it is filled with things they rarely use
- A majority of Americans (72 percent) believe they would gain more space in their homes by purging unused items, but 41 percent of Americans haven’t decluttered for over a year
“After years of experience working with clients, one thing is very clear: Americans have too much stuff and it’s causing them unnecessary anxiety,” says Collette Shine, owner of Organize and Shine, LLC and president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “People have a hard time decluttering for a lot of reasons – such as an underlying emotional attachment or because the process is simply too overwhelming. But that needs to change, especially as many face financial pressures. One way to ease the process is to turn the things accumulating around your house into money.”
Meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans (84 percent) report having financial concerns and close to half (46 percent) find it difficult to meet typical household expenses on time each month. Emergency savings, retirement and housing payments top America’s overall financial concerns. Meanwhile, individual expenses are also a source of anxiety – 32 percent of Americans report being stressed about medical expenses and 24 percent report concern about affording holiday and birthday gifts for their families.
Keeping up with their neighbors’ spending habits and standard of living is a top concern for many Americans. Forty percent of Americans believe they are less financially secure than most of their friends, and only 15 percent believe they are more financially secure. For parents, this constant comparison costs them:
- 15 percent want their kids to be popular and believe having brand names is a part of that.
- 12 percent think buying brand new items for their kids is important because they don’t want to be perceived as poor.
- 7 percent are embarrassed to buy second-hand items.
However, many Americans are taking steps in the right direction. While some Americans struggling to make ends meet have resorted to borrowing money from family and friends (25 percent), racking up credit card debt (24 percent) or skipping the doctor (22 percent), many are taking action to fix their financial situation:
- 68 percent cooked more often instead of eating out
- 66 percent spent less money on clothes or beauty products
- 55 percent cut down on meal expenses
- 46 percent skipped social or extracurricular activities
- 39 percent opted to not plan a vacation
- 13 percent took a supplemental or part-time job
- 7 percent moved to a cheaper home
“We really wanted to understand how Americans think about the things that they have in their homes and what keeps them up at night,” says Nick Huzar, co-founder and CEO of OfferUp. “We found that almost half of Americans think they have more than$1,000 in unused items sitting around their homes. Many Americans are simply not taking advantage of the hidden value that is right there in front of them.”