Americans are spending more in 2014 compared to a year ago, apparently driven by Baby Boomers - although that generation is not necessarily spending for the things they want, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Overall, 45% of consumers participating in the poll reported spending more than a year ago, while 18% reported spending less.

Fifty percent of Baby Boomers are increasing their spending on healthcare compared with a year ago. Baby Boomers also are increasing spending on household essentials, such as utilities, healthcare, home maintenance and household goods. With Baby Boomers still commanding a large share of consumer spending, until they are more willing to spend on discretionary items, their increased spending likely will do little to aid the economy, according to Gallup.

Millennials - the youngest generation of consumers - are spending more in some discretionary categories such as leisure activities and clothing. Gallup notes that Millennials increased spending on discretionary items may be driven by lower housing costs and not providing for children.

Fifty-one percent of Millennials participating in the poll said they are spending more than a year ago, while 15% said they are spending less. For Generation X, 42% said they are spending more and 21% said they are spending less.

Millennials are more likely than those known as Traditionalists, the oldest group participating in the poll, to spend more in 2014 on rent or a mortgage (39% vs. 24%); leisure activities (38% vs. 21%); and clothing (31% vs. 16%.)

Overall, more than half of all members of Generation X and Baby Boomers are less willing to spend this year compared to last year.  

The poll also includes information about how members of the different generations try to save money.
Members of Generation X and Millennials are more likely to compare prices through research online than Baby Boomers or Traditionalists.

"Baby Boomers are significantly more likely than other generations to say they shop at more than one store for similar items to get the best deals (72%.) Traditionalists are much less likely than any of the others to purchase more at the store than they intended to (44%), to go shopping for fun (19%), and to make an impulse purchase (26%)," according to the poll.

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