Though economic confidence rose slightly last month, consumers still say they plan to keep spending in check. A monthly poll by Discover showed little change in spending from August to September. There was, however, a dip in the number of people who expected to have funds left after paying bills this month.
The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor was up in September compared to August, indicating a slight increase in consumer confidence. But the percentage of people who gave the economy a rating of good or excellent was flat at 17%, and fewer people planned to increase their spending. Last month, people’s wallets were still recovering from the back-to-school shopping rush. This month, the spending fatigue correlates with a dimmer view of personal finances.
Planned spending was down slightly for the second month in a row. Overall, only 26% of people reported planning to spend more this month than last, compared with 28% last month. Thirty-three percent of people plan to increase spending on household expenses—5% fewer than last month. Sixteen percent say they will spend more on household improvements—unchanged from the previous month.
Fourteen percent are ready to lay out funds for a major purchase such as a vacation, compared with 15% last month, and only 10% of survey respondents plan to spend more on fun outings like movies and meals out—a drop of just 1% from the month before.
When asked how they felt about their personal financial picture, about a third said they were good or excellent, down a point. The percentage of people who thought their finances would improve over the coming month also fell one point to 23%. Forty-three percent of consumers thought they would have enough wiggle room in their budgets to have leftover money after the bills are paid this month. That’s 1% fewer than last month.
When the poll was broken down along gender lines, men and women came out about even on their views of personal finance. Thirty-three percent of men rated their finances as good or excellent—a drop of 3% from last month—and 32% of women felt they are in good or excellent financial shape—the same as last month. The same percentage of men and women—23%—anticipated improved finances. That was a three-point drop for men and a one-point increase for women over last month.
The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor includes responses from a random sample of 8,200 consumers each month. It tracks spending intentions, economic outlook and personal finance confidence.