The Age of the Tattoo, Financial Fights, Etc.

Test your tattoo I.Q.: Are men much more likely than women to have a tattoo? Not any more, says a Harris Poll. The poll found nearly equal numbers of men (16 percent) and women (15 percent) saying they have at least one. Young adults (and we use the term “adults” advisedly) were especially likely to be tattooed, with 36 percent of respondents in the 25-29 bracket saying they’ve got one or more. Those age 65-plus were the least likely to be tattooed (7 percent). What’s the appeal for people who have one? Thirty-four percent of them said it makes them feel “more sexy”; 29 percent said it makes them feel “more rebellious.” And for your no-accounting-for-taste files, 20 percent said a tattoo makes them feel “more spiritual.” People who aren’t tattooed often look askance at those who are. Forty-two percent of the untattooed said those with tattoos are “less attractive”; 31 percent think they’re “less intelligent.” Finally, the poll answers the question: Do people who’ve gotten tattooed regret it? Just 17 percent of them said they do. Among the regreters, the chief reason for misgivings was “Because of the person’s name in the tattoo.” One suspects they weren’t referring to Mom.

Have baby boomers stinted on saving for retirement because they expect a large inheritance to bail them out? If so, a study by AARP’s Public Policy Institute suggests many of them will be out of luck. One gains a hint of boomers’ future windfalls by looking at the inheritances that already have gone to this cohort. “Among boomer families that had ever received an inheritance by 2001, the median amount received was $47,909 (in 2002 dollars)”—nothing to sneeze at, but not enough to fund a lavish retirement. Just 5.4 percent had inherited more than $100,000. As of 2001, 17.3 percent of boomers had received a least one inheritance. This left a surprisingly small proportion of them (14.9 percent) still expecting to inherit.

Add this to the list of reasons why it’s foolish for a marketer to ignore older consumers: They’re slow to cut their spending when the economy sours. In a WSL Strategic Retail survey, consumers 55-plus were less likely than those under 55 to say they’ve pared their spending on takeout foods (41 percent vs. 51 percent), premium cable-TV services (15 percent vs. 31 percent), salon services (23 percent vs. 41 percent) and premium brands of food (33 percent vs. 41 percent).

If you hear the couple next door tossing crockery at each other, odds are they’re not arguing about money. So we intuit from a poll of married and unmarried-but-cohabiting adults conducted for Redbook and SmartMoney. Sixty-seven percent of men and 58 percent of women said money is “rarely or never a source of fights in their relationship.” When couples do disagree about their finances, debt is the main irritant (see the chart). Just 9 percent cited “saving for retirement” as a major point of contention, but not because this issue isn’t a big deal. Rather, nearly equal numbers of men (42 percent) and women (40 percent) said “not having enough money for retirement” is their main financial worry. Perhaps couples are more likely to fight about money when one partner is anxious and the other is blasé, not when both are worried. Demonstrating the durability of gender roles, the study found men retain the main role in decisions on investments and car purchases, while women have more say over purchases of appliances and kid-related items.

When permitted to spend some money as they please, how do kids like to allot the loot? Among those age 12-17 polled by ORC International, clothing is the top choice, cited by 50 percent (including 63 percent of the girls). The second choice, surprisingly, is “save/put it in the bank” (15 percent), with video games (14 percent) and CDs/music (13 percent) close behind. Among kids age 6-11, toys/dolls get the highest vote (27 percent). Saving is popular in this age bracket, too, with 21 percent saying they’d bank the money. Other leading choices were clothing (16 percent) and candy/snacks (15 percent).