Consumer confidence in the economy in August stabilized after declining for three consecutive months, although the number percentage of consumers rating their personal finances as poor rose, according to new survey data Discover Financial Services released Sept. 1.

Discover’s U.S. Spending Monitor Index in August remained nearly flat, declining 0.3 points to 86.2 from 86.5 in July. The index had fallen at least one point each month since April, when it measured 91.5. Discover set the index at 100 when it introduced it in May 2007.

In a nationwide telephone survey of 8,200 adults Rasmussen Reports conducted throughout August on behalf of Discover, 27% of respondents said they believe overall economic conditions are improving, up from 23.4% who did in July. Fifty-seven percent of respondents rated the economy as poor, unchanged from July.

Consumers’ pessimism about their household finances rose, as 24% of respondents rated their personal financial situations as poor, up from 21.3% who did in July, and 48% said they feel their personal finances are getting worse, unchanged from July.

Forty-two percent of respondents in August said they would have no money left over after paying bills, up from 39.3% in July, while 47% said they would have money left over, down from 48.9% in July.

Some 19% of respondents said they plan to spend more in the next 30 days, unchanged from July, while 48% of respondents said they plan to spend less on going out to dinner or to the movies and on home improvements, also unchanged from July.

 “Financial uncertainty has consumers pretty much adopting a hold-the-line attitude toward their spending,” Julie Loeger, Discover senior vice president of brand and product management, said in a statement. “The good news is that for the first time in four months, the monitor reported an increase in consumers who feel economic conditions are improving. If consumers continue to feel the economy is on the mend, it may give them a reason to believe their financial situation will improve as well.”

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