Why are so many people limiting their spending?

In what could be an ominous sign for the upcoming holiday shopping season, two-thirds of Americans are limiting how much they spend each month, according to a new survey released Tuesday.

The Bankrate.com report finds that of those limiting monthly income, 32 percent cite stagnant income as the main reason. Twenty-nine percent cite the need to save more, 16 percent cited worries about the economy, and 11 percent said they're limiting their spending because they have too much debt.

The study finds that likeliness to limit spending and reasons for doing so break down by age. Those between the age of 30 and 49 are most likely to limit monthly spending, which Bankrate suggests could be because "these are the prime home-buying, car-owning and child-rearing years."

According to a Bankrate.com survey, 32 percent cite stagnant income as the main reason for limiting their spending. Bankrate.com

As for reasons not to spend, seniors -- at three times the rate of millennials -- say it's stagnant income. Stagnant pay for working Americans has been widely cited as a reason for the economy's lackluster recovery, but senior citizens, who largely rely on fixed income, have been hit especially hard by interest rates still hovering at historic lows.

Those 18-29 years old, cite the need to save more as their main reason for tightening their belts.

Bankrate's report also measured feelings of financial security. While it found that Americans registered improvement in job security, comfort level with debt, net worth and overall financial situation, the report said "comfort level with savings has deteriorated in the past 12 months."

Other highlights from the report:

  • "15% of Democrats said the biggest reason not to increase spending was that they had too much debt. Only 6% of Republicans put debt as the biggest reason."
  • "People from suburban communities are twice as likely to say they feel less secure [in terms of job security] than those living in urban areas."
  • "College graduates are more than twice as likely to say they feel more comfortable [regarding their savings] than people who didn't attend college."

The survey, based on telephone interviews with 1,007 U.S. adults, was conducted from Oct. 2 to Oct. 5. Bankrate.com is a commercial website offering advice and services on financial planning. The survey was carried out for Bankrate by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.