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The cost of winter

Americans coughed up over $23.2 billion dollars on cold/flu supplies and food delivery this winter.

Winter can be a tough time to try to save money. A survey estimates that 93% of Americans have spent extra money this winter on being sick, totaling $23.2 billion overall. Getting sick is always a bummer, but when it forces you to take time off work and spend extra money on supplies, it can hurt twice as bad.

Illness by the numbers

Of the 93% who admitted to spending extra money this winter on being sick, an average of $100.59 was spent – which includes $50.63 on cold/flu supplies, with the remainder ($49.96) spent on food delivery. Men spent more than women, dropping an average $134.53 each compared to $90.68 for women. Potential evidence that the Man flu is a real thing?

Cold and Flu Supplies$62.86$45.37
Food Delivery$71.66$45.37

Generationally, Baby Boomers spent the least on cold and flu supplies dropping $46.29 on average at the drugstore. Millennials were next spending $48.15, with Gen X’ers coughing up a whopping $55.09. More than half of Americans (53%) admitted to spending more than usual on food delivery over the winter as well. Almost double the number of men (17%) spent over $50 on food delivery while ill, compared to women (10%).

Financial status also had an effect on winter spending, with those making more money spending extra on supplies:

Household IncomeProportion of those spending
$50 or more due to illness in winter
$25,000 and under15%

Calling in sick?

Over one in four Americans (28%) had to take time off work due to sickness this winter. Women were more likely to take time off work at 30% compared to 26% of men. Only 11% of Baby Boomers had to call in sick, while Gen X’ers and Millenials came in at 29% and 28% respectively. Quite a jump between generations!

Tips to prevent sickness and keep costs down next winter:

  • Make sure that you keep up a healthy diet all year round
  • Get plenty of sleep and exercise at home
  • Maintain good hygiene. It doesn’t take long for germs to spread – a bottle of hand sanitizer, regular hand washing, and keeping your hands away from your face can all help to combat the common cold and keep the cost down.

If you do fall ill:

  • Get plenty of rest, and hydrate religiously
  • Chicken Soup (seriously!)
  • Try to eat other antioxidant rich foods such as ginger, garlic, and honey
  • Stay home. Don’t try to be a hero and work through your sickness. Your boss will be happy to lose you for few days rather than contaminate the entire workplace.

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Richard Laycock, Insights editor and senior content marketing manager


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Chief operating officer

Michelle Hutchison is chief operating officer at Schebesta Ventures. She's an award-winning public relations pro and advisory board member, and has held multiple roles in Finder including global head of communication and compliance officer for Finder Ventures, and global head of communication for Finder. Michelle started at Finder in 2013 as the Australian head of PR and money expert. With more than a decade of experience in public relations, Michelle was formerly a journalist and editor, and has written for numerous publications including The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Mamamia and New Idea. See full bio

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