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Dreamscrolling Research

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The average American spends nearly two and a half hours a day “Dreamscrolling” – looking at dream purchases or things they’d like to one day own. Time is Money to many people, and a majority (71%) say dreamscrolling is time well spent, as the habit motivates them to reach their financial goals.

In a year, that amounts to about 873 hours or nearly 36 days spent scrolling on the phone or computer. Gen Zers spend the most time dreamscrolling at just over three hours per day, while Boomers spend the least, clocking in around an hour. Half of respondents say they dreamscroll while on the job, and of those, 1 in 5 admit to spending between three and four hours a day multitasking while at work.

Americans say looking at dream purchases makes it easier for them to be smart with their money (56%), avoid making unplanned purchases or going into debt (30%) and better plan to achieve their financial goals (25%). Nearly 7 in 10 see dreamscrolling as an investment in themselves (69%) and an outlet for them to envision what they want out of life (67%). Forty-two percent spend time picturing their ideal retirement, such as age, location and monthly expenses.

More than half (56%) currently have things left open in tabs and windows or saved in shopping carts that they’d like to purchase or own in the future. For those respondents, they estimate it would cost about $86,593.40 to afford everything they currently have saved.

Other findings:

  • Stacking up: 34% say they’ve purchased less things on their dream list than they should at their age, with Millennials feeling the most behind (39%). Top economic factors that may be holding some Americans back include rising prices (54%), inability to save money (29%) and growing debt (21%).
  • Economy effect: More than 2 in 5 respondents say they spend more time dreamscrolling when the economy is uncertain (43%).
  • Dreaming big: Half of Americans say they are spending more time dreamscrolling now than they did in previous years (45%) and plan on buying something on their dream list before this year wraps (56%).
  • Scroll on: 1 in 5 respondents look at homes or apartments (21%), and a quarter search for vacation destinations (25%), beauty or self-care products (23%) and items for their pets (19%). Others spend time looking at clothing, shoes and accessories (49%); gadgets and technology (30%); and home décor or furniture (29%).
  • Making it: While 65% are optimistic they’ll be able to one day to buy everything on their list, nearly 1 in 4 say they don’t think they’ll ever be able to afford the majority of items (23%).

More than half (51%) say owning their dream purchases would make them feel more financially secure, which may be why close to half say working with a financial professional would help them reach their goals (47%).

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Empower between March 28 and March 31, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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