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27 Things We Learned About How BuzzFeed Readers Do Money

The results of our poll are in.

Posted on

Last week, over 90,000 readers visited our poll on money habits, spilling the beans about what they're making, how they're spending it, and what they're spending it on.

Given this poll's completely unscientific nature — about 75,700 people responded to the first question, but that number dropped to 45,100 by the last, for one thing — we can't really extend these results to make any meaningful conclusions about a population beyond the BuzzFeed readers who decided to click. But still, those readers revealed some interesting things! Here's what we learned:

1.

Almost half of the respondents bring in less than $20,000 a year, which is lower than both the national U.S. median wage ($28,031 as of 2013) and, by a much greater margin, the national U.S. average wage ($43,041 as of 2013).
buzzfeed.com

Almost half of the respondents bring in less than $20,000 a year, which is lower than both the national U.S. median wage ($28,031 as of 2013) and, by a much greater margin, the national U.S. average wage ($43,041 as of 2013).

2.

It's a near tie between those with budgets and those without, though less than a quarter of those who do budget actually stick with it. Likely, the 38% who disregard the budgets they've put together are all-too-familiar with the "time to stare at my Mint graphs and think about how next month will be better" feeling.
buzzfeed.com

It's a near tie between those with budgets and those without, though less than a quarter of those who do budget actually stick with it. Likely, the 38% who disregard the budgets they've put together are all-too-familiar with the "time to stare at my Mint graphs and think about how next month will be better" feeling.

3.

A majority are at least vaguely aware of the goings-on in their accounts. As for the 15% who avoid it altogether, perhaps they're either so flush they know they don't need to check, or they're of the "if I don't acknowledge it, it isn't true" mind. A word of warning, though: The FTC recommends at least reading through your monthly statement to prevent fraud.
buzzfeed.com

A majority are at least vaguely aware of the goings-on in their accounts. As for the 15% who avoid it altogether, perhaps they're either so flush they know they don't need to check, or they're of the "if I don't acknowledge it, it isn't true" mind. A word of warning, though: The FTC recommends at least reading through your monthly statement to prevent fraud.

4.

Just over half of those responding carry at least some cash, but not more than $50 — a solid amount for emergencies and/or cash-only bars.
buzzfeed.com

Just over half of those responding carry at least some cash, but not more than $50 — a solid amount for emergencies and/or cash-only bars.

5.

Shockingly, just about two-thirds of respondents still have checks on hand in this increasingly paperless world, whether they're for regular or emergency use. The other third have sadly never felt the joy and sophistication of signing their name in the lower right corner.
buzzfeed.com

Shockingly, just about two-thirds of respondents still have checks on hand in this increasingly paperless world, whether they're for regular or emergency use. The other third have sadly never felt the joy and sophistication of signing their name in the lower right corner.

6.

Although they don't total enough to be statistically meaningful, 108 people did in fact choose checks as their most frequent method of payment, which, again, is incredibly surprising, and possibly frustrating for the people who stand behind them in lines. (As for the 121 votes for "other": Venmo? iPhone? Bitcoin?) Only 15% use cash regularly, but more should consider it — studies show you're likely to spend more money, sometimes by up to 100%, if you pay with a credit card.
buzzfeed.com

Although they don't total enough to be statistically meaningful, 108 people did in fact choose checks as their most frequent method of payment, which, again, is incredibly surprising, and possibly frustrating for the people who stand behind them in lines. (As for the 121 votes for "other": Venmo? iPhone? Bitcoin?) Only 15% use cash regularly, but more should consider it — studies show you're likely to spend more money, sometimes by up to 100%, if you pay with a credit card.

7.

Almost a third of respondents have no debt (sparking some ire in the comments), but for those who do owe, it's mostly student loans that are sucking them dry. This isn't surprising, given that the average cost of tuition and fees at a public university was $22,203 ($8,893 for state residents) for the 2013-2014 school year.
buzzfeed.com

Almost a third of respondents have no debt (sparking some ire in the comments), but for those who do owe, it's mostly student loans that are sucking them dry. This isn't surprising, given that the average cost of tuition and fees at a public university was $22,203 ($8,893 for state residents) for the 2013-2014 school year.

8.

The good news is that most of respondents owe less than $10,000, regardless of the source of that debt.
buzzfeed.com

The good news is that most of respondents owe less than $10,000, regardless of the source of that debt.

9.

Only 29% admit to no long-term planning — understandable, when we remember that 42% of respondents are making less than $20,000 a year.
buzzfeed.com

Only 29% admit to no long-term planning — understandable, when we remember that 42% of respondents are making less than $20,000 a year.

10.

Most respondents lose less than half of their salary to rent, which probably means they don't live in New York.
buzzfeed.com

Most respondents lose less than half of their salary to rent, which probably means they don't live in New York.

11.

The poll-takers are a (mostly) independent bunch, with 80% paying all or some of their bills. When they're getting help, though, it's likely coming from parents and not partners.
buzzfeed.com

The poll-takers are a (mostly) independent bunch, with 80% paying all or some of their bills. When they're getting help, though, it's likely coming from parents and not partners.

12.

A clear majority — 63% — aren't comfortable taking money from friends and family, though about a quarter of that chunk are generous enough to still lend to those who need it. The most baffling (or maybe the smartest?) are the 9% who will take money but, for some reason, won't give it.
buzzfeed.com

A clear majority — 63% — aren't comfortable taking money from friends and family, though about a quarter of that chunk are generous enough to still lend to those who need it. The most baffling (or maybe the smartest?) are the 9% who will take money but, for some reason, won't give it.

13.

Most people are getting their money back, but they're not too pressed about how or when it happens. There's just about an even divide between those who will outright ask for it and those who will wait to see if the problem solves itself. Surprisingly, a very chill 11% are OK with calling it a wash.
buzzfeed.com

Most people are getting their money back, but they're not too pressed about how or when it happens. There's just about an even divide between those who will outright ask for it and those who will wait to see if the problem solves itself. Surprisingly, a very chill 11% are OK with calling it a wash.

14.

Congratulations to our largely confident and pragmatic survey population, 82% of whom are solid in their friendships regardless of any income disparities. (As far as those whose relationships are affected by money, the people who make more money than their friends are in the slight majority.)
buzzfeed.com

Congratulations to our largely confident and pragmatic survey population, 82% of whom are solid in their friendships regardless of any income disparities. (As far as those whose relationships are affected by money, the people who make more money than their friends are in the slight majority.)

15.

Almost half of the respondents are single, but those in relationships keep their finances separate for the most part, save for a few shared expenses.
buzzfeed.com

Almost half of the respondents are single, but those in relationships keep their finances separate for the most part, save for a few shared expenses.

16.

In line with their stance on money and friendships, the respondents are mostly unmoved by money in romantic relationships as well. Still, that teeny tiny one percent had to end things because of their partner's wealth, which suggests an interesting and perhaps unbridgeable gap between classes.
buzzfeed.com

In line with their stance on money and friendships, the respondents are mostly unmoved by money in romantic relationships as well. Still, that teeny tiny one percent had to end things because of their partner's wealth, which suggests an interesting and perhaps unbridgeable gap between classes.

17.

The respondents vote accuracy over convenience, making the fair, albeit complicated, method of paying for what you ate the clear favorite. Only a quarter of the survey-takers chose the simpler method of splitting and bouncing, and 4% opt for the quickest, most pain-free (if you can afford it) option: just paying for it themselves.
buzzfeed.com

The respondents vote accuracy over convenience, making the fair, albeit complicated, method of paying for what you ate the clear favorite. Only a quarter of the survey-takers chose the simpler method of splitting and bouncing, and 4% opt for the quickest, most pain-free (if you can afford it) option: just paying for it themselves.

18.

Who is this magical 11%?
buzzfeed.com

Who is this magical 11%?

19.

Almost half never give, almost half sometimes do, but only 1% say they give something to every street performer and panhandler they encounter. And it doesn't seem to be for brownie points, either: Only 2% admit to giving only if there's a witness to their generosity.
buzzfeed.com

Almost half never give, almost half sometimes do, but only 1% say they give something to every street performer and panhandler they encounter. And it doesn't seem to be for brownie points, either: Only 2% admit to giving only if there's a witness to their generosity.

20.

Five percent are living life like a whirlwind, but the rest of the survey population could prove their identity if their bank called.
buzzfeed.com

Five percent are living life like a whirlwind, but the rest of the survey population could prove their identity if their bank called.

21.

A quarter of the population aren't budging: They're not spending an extra $1-3 to access their own money, no matter the circumstances. There are other deciding factors for those who do use third-party ATMs, though, as one commenter points out — like the fact that some banks or credit unions will refund those fees. Find a list of them here.
buzzfeed.com

A quarter of the population aren't budging: They're not spending an extra $1-3 to access their own money, no matter the circumstances. There are other deciding factors for those who do use third-party ATMs, though, as one commenter points out — like the fact that some banks or credit unions will refund those fees. Find a list of them here.

22.

Almost half of the respondents admit that their laziness is the only thing keeping them from savings, but they're not moved to change that. More than a quarter are proud couponers (and/or Grouponers), but a small fraction are too proud to save. Perhaps they've never seen Extreme Couponing.
buzzfeed.com

Almost half of the respondents admit that their laziness is the only thing keeping them from savings, but they're not moved to change that. More than a quarter are proud couponers (and/or Grouponers), but a small fraction are too proud to save. Perhaps they've never seen Extreme Couponing.

23.

These results were some of the most evenly distributed, meaning almost two-thirds of the respondents wouldn't talk discuss these questions IRL, either because they think it's rude or they just don't care.
buzzfeed.com

These results were some of the most evenly distributed, meaning almost two-thirds of the respondents wouldn't talk discuss these questions IRL, either because they think it's rude or they just don't care.

24.

Of the 86% who admit to having disposable income (i.e., money available for spending or saving post-taxes), a majority splurge on food and alcohol — very much in line with the previously noted 18,400 votes for the "live fast, die young" mentality.
buzzfeed.com

Of the 86% who admit to having disposable income (i.e., money available for spending or saving post-taxes), a majority splurge on food and alcohol — very much in line with the previously noted 18,400 votes for the "live fast, die young" mentality.

25.

If you feel like you're blindly taking part in a system you barely understand, you're not alone: Just over a third of the respondents are in the same boat.
buzzfeed.com

If you feel like you're blindly taking part in a system you barely understand, you're not alone: Just over a third of the respondents are in the same boat.

26.

But "getting" money doesn't mean you're immune to the anxiety it can cause: 86% of respondents are at least somewhat affected by financial stress, with 20% admitting they lose sleep over it.
buzzfeed.com

But "getting" money doesn't mean you're immune to the anxiety it can cause: 86% of respondents are at least somewhat affected by financial stress, with 20% admitting they lose sleep over it.

27.

The people have spoken.
buzzfeed.com

The people have spoken.

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