New Financial Health Pulse Data Shows Correlation Between Cost of Gas and Consumption and the Impact of Price Increases on Financially Unhealthy

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Chicago, IL, Dec. 01, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Financial Health Network, the nation’s authority on financial health, with support from the Citi Foundation and Principal Foundation, today released a new Financial Health Pulse Points brief on how financial health was related to gas purchasing behavior in 2022. Top-level findings show that both financially healthy and unhealthy people reduced their gas consumption at similar rates as prices increased. 

Financially unhealthy people purchased gas in smaller amounts per transaction when gas prices were highest and increased the frequency with which they purchased gas relative to financially healthy people. These data suggest that people may cope with increasing prices by using less gas and splitting their gas purchases into smaller, more frequent transactions, especially if they are facing tight budget constraints.

Top-line findings from our sample:

  • Financially Healthy and Financially Unhealthy people reduced their gas consumption at similar rates: about two fewer gallons of gas per month for each $1 increase in price.  
  • Overall, people took more trips to the pump, with the number of times they purchased gas per month increasing by about 12% for each $1 increase in price (after taking into account changes in gas consumption). 
    • For example, a person who usually visits the gas station nine times per month would buy gas ten times.
  • Notably, as gas prices increased from $4 to $5 a gallon, Financially Unhealthy people increased their number of monthly gas purchases by 16%, while Financially Healthy people did not significantly change how often they purchased gas.

“Every American is feeling the increase in prices at the pump, but consumers may be looking to lessen the psychological distress resulting from higher prices by keeping their out-of-pocket per trip the same,” said Angela Fontes, vice president of Policy and Research at the Financial Health Network. “Our unique data demonstrate just one of the many difficulties financially coping and vulnerable people face meeting day-to-day expenses, and how inflation exacerbates those difficulties.”

Pulse Points offers regular, timely updates on financial health in America using account and transaction data from the Financial Health Pulse. These briefs supplement the annual Pulse Trends Reports released each fall, which highlight broad trends on the financial health of Americans and how they spend, save, borrow and plan. Analysis for the Pulse Points is based on transactional and account data from approximately 500 members of USC’s consumer panel who agreed to share their data through a secure platform that leverages Plaid’s API. 

About the Financial Health Network

The Financial Health Network is the leading authority on financial health. We are a trusted resource for business leaders, policymakers and innovators united in a mission to improve the financial health of their customers, employees and communities. Through research, advisory services, measurement tools, and opportunities for cross-sector collaboration, we advance awareness, understanding and proven best practices in support of improved financial health for all. For more on the Financial Health Network, go to www.finhealthnetwork.org and follow us on Twitter at @FinHealthNet.

About the Financial Health Pulse 

The Financial Health Pulse is supported by the Citi Foundation, with additional funding from Principal Foundation. Since the inception of the initiative in 2018, the Financial Health Network has collaborated with USC’s Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research to field the study to their online panel, the Understanding America Study. Study participants who agree to share their transactional and account data use Plaid’s data connectivity services to authorize their data for analysis. 

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Attachments

  • Gas Consumption Graph
  • Gas Per Transaction Graph

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