CONSUMERS are ditching gym memberships and cutting back on health insurance, TV subscriptions and car usage in a drive to make ends meet.
Leisure and entertainment are the first expenses to be curbed when household cutbacks become necessary.
In contrast, education fees and mortgage repayments remain sacrosanct despite the recession, and would only be cut as a last resort.
As many households struggle to balance their budgets, membership subscriptions to clubs such as gyms are the first to be sacrificed with nearly one in three (30pc) of those surveyed saying they would stop paying such fees if household cutbacks were needed.
TV subscriptions would also get the chop with over a fifth of people (22pc) saying they would stop paying them first, followed by health insurance (17pc), according to the Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne poll.
But education fees and mortgage repayments remain virtually untouchable as people focus on safeguarding their home and their children's future. A mere 2pc said they would stop such payments if financial cutbacks were necessary.
As fuel costs continue to soar, motoring has also taken a hit over the past 12 months with more than four in 10 (45pc) claiming to have cut back on their car usage.
Rising petrol and diesel prices were cited by the vast majority (85pc) as the main reasons for cutting back on motoring while one in four blamed personal finances in general for the drop in car usage.
While credit unions remain the preferred option, worryingly, nearly one in 10 people have resorted to moneylenders -- more than would ask friends for a digout -- in an attempt to borrow their way out of debt.
Eight per cent of borrowers resorted to moneylenders -- slightly more than those who asked their friends (7pc) for help.
Four in 10 people (42pc) turned to credit unions while more than a third (34pc) borrowed from their parents to help pay their monthly bills in the past year.
The latest survey also shows that in the eyes of most the black market is still seen as legitimate with more than three-quarters admitting they would consider buying black economy services if it meant saving money.
Of those surveyed, 76pc agreed they would buy services on the black market with almost half (47pc) saying they would "strongly agree" with paying cash to a tradesman if it meant getting the work done cheaper.
And while three in 10 claim they will manage to get away from it all and go abroad for a holiday this year, nearly half (47pc) have no plans to travel at all.