The shaky state of the economy is on the mind of millions of Americans. Monthly job reports bring less than exciting news, the national deficit is growing and the debt ceiling deadline is looming. These concerns and more are causing American households to tighten up their spending according to a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll surveyed 2,163 adults between June 13 and June 20, 2011. Survey results show that Americans are taking a variety of steps to reduce their monthly outgo. A few of the money saving steps include:

  • 67 percent of those surveyed are purchasing more generic brands than in the past
  • 46 percent of workers bring their lunch to work instead of eating out
  • 43 percent of Americans are reducing their salon or barbershop trips
  • 39 percent of survey respondents are switching to a refillable water bottle (bonus green points for this change!)
  • 22 percent of households have reduced their cable television subscription level
  • 14 percent of those surveyed are carpooling or using mass transit to reduce transportation costs (more green points!)
The poll also looked at the changes made based on age. The responses were categorized into Echo Boomers (18-34), Gen. X (35-46), Baby Boomers (47-65) and Matures (66+). It was surprising to me to see that there was very little difference in spending reduction between generations in a few categories.

For example, 69 percent of those 66 and older are purchasing more generic brands. This number only drops to 68 percent for Baby Boomers and Gen. Xers and then drops a bit more to 62 percent for Echo Boomers.

Of course the downside to reduced household spending is that it will take longer for the economy to recover because our shopping dollars help the economy grow.

“While making more careful spending decisions may be good for a household budget, continual cutting back doesn't do much to help the overall economy grow. It seems a balance will need to be reached to make Americans feel secure in their own household's finances as well as comfortable enough spending to allow the country's economy to grow once again.” Harris Interactive

Until the job reports start to improve and the nation has a clear direction on the debt ceiling and the deficit, it is unlikely that consumer confidence will improve much.

How about you? Are you reducing your monthly spending? If so, what changes are you making?