When gasoline prices are rising, it is a clear headwind to the economy. But despite falling gas prices in the first half of 2013, Bankrate.com found that 80 percent of Americans have not increased their discretionary spending. As a result, recent declines in gasoline prices have provided little oomph to the economic recovery.
"I live in LA and I would say that it probably stayed the same for me, but I don't go out spending that frequently. I would say it's about the same."
"My non-essential spending is, like, zip. I spend almost nothing on movies and going out to eat because it's just not something that's really affordable."
"My non-essential spending has definitely increased and falling gas prices is definitely a factor. My wife drives all the way out to long island for work, so like a 45 minute drive, so it definitely affects me."
Only 17 percent of Americans have increased their nonessential spending as a result of the recent drop in gas prices, a reading that is consistent across age, education and income levels.
Americans still indicate improvement in financial security over the preceding year, with the Financial Security Index clocking in at 100.2. Any reading above 100 indicates improved financial security compared to 12 months ago, while a reading below 100 indicates deteriorating financial security in the same 12-month period. This is just the fifth time in 30 months -- and the third month in a row -- that the Financial Security Index has come in above 100. But the reading has slipped in each of the past two months, from 101.5 in March to 100.4 in April, and now 100.2 in May.
Americans continue to note improvement in job security, comfort level with debt, higher net worth, and improved overall financial situation compared to one year ago. Only comfort level with savings remains in negative territory. Interestingly, households with annual income of $75,000 or more are feeling slightly less secure in their jobs compared to one year ago, but they're the only group feeling more comfortable with their savings.
For more information on this month's Financial Security Index, just visit Bankrate.com.