S: Thrifty Habits

Cost-conscious adults living alone in urban areas

3.71% of households and 2.60% of population

Who We Are

  • Aged 51-65
  • Household income less than $15,000
  • 1 person household
  • Renter
  • Very high level of technology adoption

Key Features

  • Modest spenders
  • Limited budgets
  • Cable TV
  • College sports fans
  • Modest educations
  • Lottery ticket holders



The four types in Thrifty Habits reflect the nation’s least affluent group. These households contain economically challenged singles and divorced individuals living in isolated towns and cities. With modest educations and humble jobs, many struggle to make ends meet. Many of their communities face endemic problems associated with poverty and crime. As a group, the households are older (ages range from 45 to 75), without children, and transient. Half have lived at the same address for fewer than seven years. Many of these unmarried and unattached singles have moved into these communities with few resources other than a hope of starting over.

Thrifty Habits are scattered across the US but are found especially in small city markets in the South and Midwest. Home values are low, about two thirds of the national average, but half this segment own their homes. The other have rented a mix of older ranch houses and crowded apartment buildings. In their neighborhoods, homes are often surrounded by commercial businesses and buildings.

Thrifty Habits are not well-educated. Around a quarter didn’t finish high school. Almost forty percent report their profession as “other”. The majority have work in mostly low-paying, entry-level jobs in health care, fast food, social services and the wholesale and retail trades. Advancement is difficult. With household incomes well below the national average, these Americans can only afford simple lifestyles.

Their small-city locations afford members of Thrifty Habits some low-cost entertainment options. Most activities are home- based, whether it’s listening to R&B music or watching TV. These middle-aged adults pursue few athletic activities other than rooting for home-town teams playing professional basketball and football. For excitement, they regularly try their luck buying lottery tickets.

Perhaps due to low incomes, Thrifty Habits display a need for status recognition. Many of these households like to make a statement with their fashion, and they try to keep up with the latest styles—admittedly, sometimes spending more than they can afford. Most are price-sensitive shoppers who visit discount department stores like Walmart, Kmart, Burlington Coat Factory and Payless ShoeSource. They have similar aspirational tastes in cars: they’d like to drive fast cars with lots of options, yet the majority can’t afford to own a vehicle. Those who can usually settle for used subcompacts.

Thrifty Habits have selective media tastes. Self-described TV addicts, many keep their TV sets on most of the day to watch dramas, sitcoms, reality and game shows. This is a group filled with music fans, and they tune their radios to stations that play R&B.

Thrifty Habits are less politically involved than the rest of America. Of the fifty percent that vote, they are voting for the Democratic nominee.