Americans are cutting their spending and savings habits, but they are not yet resorting to additional debt to get through tough financial times. The new COUNTRY Financial survey shows most people are stopping short of tapping into credit and existing savings to make ends meet, despite the fact that nearly three in four Americans (73 percent) think their financial security will not improve this year.

“Many people are struggling with rising prices,” says Keith Brannan, vice president of financial security planning at COUNTRY. “The good news is that while we are changing our habits, the majority haven’t yet crossed the line into high interest credit card debt and their savings accounts.”

Americans Make Cuts

  • Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) have cut back their spending and 62
    percent have put less money into their savings or retirement to
    cope with the current economy.
  • Only one-quarter (26 percent) have had to rely on credit cards to get
    by and less than half (43 percent) say they have tapped into their
    existing savings.

The Budget Struggle

The survey finds less than half (49 percent) use a household budget, despite the fact that most Americans are pessimistic about their current financial condition.

Many of those who do use a budget may still struggle with balancing finances. Budgeters are more likely to cut spending (70 percent) than those who don’t budget (58 percent). They are also more likely to scale back savings and retirement contributions (63 percent) than people who don’t use a budget (60 percent).

“It’s surprising that many people have not started budgeting despite economic instability,” says Brannan. “Taking control of the situation is crucial, and a basic system can help you track and adjust your finances. If you already use a budget, it is important to learn how to prioritize spending and saving habits most effectively for both the short and long term.”

Important tips on how to prioritize spending and saving:

  • The best place to start adjusting your finances is with your
    discretionary spending, such as eating out less, renting movies
    instead of going to a theater and planning vacations closer to home.
  • You should also look at your fixed expenses which have some
    1. In hotter months, set your thermostat two degrees higher to
      save on your electric bill.
    2. Review your cable and cell phone packages to see if you can
      save on monthly bills.
    3. Turn off your lights and install energy-friendly lighting.
      According to the U.S. Department of Energy, artificial light
      consumes almost 15 percent of a household’s electricity use.
  • If you need to start cutting your contributions to savings, consider
    starting with college savings funds. You can always borrow later to
    pay for your child’s college. Do not cut contributions to your 401(k).
    Since employers often match your contributions, you could be losing
    free money in addition to the money you contribute on your own.
  • For more information on Americans’ sentiments about financial security, please visit
    The COUNTRY Consumer Choices survey is based on a national telephone survey of 3,000 Americans and is compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC (, an independent research firm. The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.