U.S. consumers, slightly more pessimistic about their finances, planned to spend less this month, following already lighter-than-usual holiday spending, according to survey data Discover Financial Services released last week.

Discover’s overall U.S. Spending Monitor index fell to 83 during December, a decline of 3.3 points from November. Discover set the index at 100 when it introduced it in May 2007.

In a nationwide survey of 8,200 adults Rasmussen Reports conducted in December on behalf of Discover, 49.5% of respondents believed their finances were getting worse, compared with 48.9% who said so in November. Fifty-seven percent of participants rated the economy as poor, down from 59% who thought so in November. Some 47.6% felt economic conditions were worsening, a slight improvement from 49.1% who thought so in November.

A record low 42.7% of consumers surveyed said they expect to have money left over after paying monthly bills, compared with 48.2% who said so in November.

Among those with money left over, 25.7% said they would have less than the previous month, compared with 23.5% who said so in November. Not surprisingly, 33.9% of consumers plan to spend less in January following the holidays. Some 50.8% of respondents said they spent less on holiday gifts in 2009 compared with the previous year, while 31.1% said they spent the same amount, 15.5% spent more and 2.6% were not sure.

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