Democrats are big spenders on personal finances: Survey

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Consumer spending is coming back, and you can thank Democrats.

Low oil prices have meant savings at the gas pump for American consumers, but only some people are taking those savings and reinvesting in the nonessential goods that help boost the economy. Nearly a fifth of Democrats spent their savings on nonessential items like vacations and going out to eat over the past 12 months, according to a new survey from Bankrate. (Tweet This)

At the same time, Republicans may have learned the lessons of the recession more dearly: They're making more prudent financial decisions with their gas savings, according to the survey.

Only 10 percent of Republicans have spent their savings on nonessential items over that same period, and 13 percent of independents. More Republicans than Democrats say they feel more comfortable now with the amount of money they have in savings, their debt level and their overall financial situation, than they did a year ago.

The largest group of Republicans—45 percent—spent most of their gas savings on necessities like groceries and rent, according to the survey.

Average gas prices around the nation have dropped almost a dollar in the past year, from $3.64 to $2.69, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. A dollar's drop in gas prices means about $50 a month in savings for the average American household, Market Realist estimates.

Men say they're saving more

The survey also supports the idea that millennials ages 18 to 29 were affected by the recession and interact with the market and finances differently than their parents. More than a quarter of millennials put their gas savings away for the future, while only 19 percent of the overall population did so.

When it comes to gender, women shelled out for necessities while men put more money away. Fifty percent of females said they spent their gas savings on things like groceries and housing, while only 31 percent of men said the same. But more two-thirds of men said they saved their money while only 16 percent of women did.

The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (500) in English and Spanish from April 30 - May 3, 2015. Statistical results were weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.