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PERSONAL FINANCE

Consumers Tightening their Belts

Forced to cut spending, Americans are feeling better about managing their finances.
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Consumers are worried about the economy, but not their ability to manage household finances during the downturn, according to Discover.

Its monthly U.S. spending monitor fell 2.2 points to 86.5 in September, the Riverwoods, Ill.—based financial services firm reported this week.

Of 14,000 adults surveyed, over 55 percent rated the economy as poor, and nearly 70 percent said they thought it was getting worse. Both measures are up five points from August.

Despite a drop in gas prices, 63 percent of Americans were expecting to spend the same or less money in the next month, unchanged from August. Fifty-one percent plan to spend less on discretionary purchases such as eating out, while 48 percent plan to spend less on major purchases.

"As consumers remain justifiably concerned over the economy, they continue to hold the line on spending, cutting back where they need to in order to make ends meet," Margo Georgiadis, executive vice president and CEO of Discover Financial Services, said in a statement. "This may be unwelcome news to our nation's retailers with the holiday season just around the corner."

Despite the souring mood, consumer maintained confidence in their own finances, the survey found. Only 19 percent of respondents rated their finances as poor, down from 20 percent in August, while 30 percent rated their personal finances as good. Just over half said they had money left over after paying bills, and most said the extra money was more or as much as they had in August.

"By actively managing discretionary spending, consumers have consistently balanced their budgets, which has sustained confidence in their personal finances," Georgiadis said.

Last updated: Oct 8, 2008




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