A new poll shows that Americans are less concerned about debt than a year ago, but that doesn't mean they'll be spending freely this Christmas season.
The Associated Press-GFK poll found that 59 percent feel little or no stress about their ability to pay mortgage, credit card, and other debt. That's up from 49 percent last last year.
One reason could be that consumers said they're more disciplined about paying off credit card balances right away. They're also less likely to buy on credit if they don't have the money to cover the purchase.
"I use it as cash in my pocket," Richard Kirby, 64, a retiree from Palm Harbor, Fla., said of his card. "We're all tempted. I can buy this, I can buy that, but then you realize you have to pay for it."
Also, 52 percent stated that they rarely dwell on their financial liabilities, which is the same as last year. Yet, it is the first time more than half said so since an AP poll first asked the question in 2004.
"People are essentially adapting to their circumstances," said Joseph Sirgy, a marketing professor at Virginia Tech who studies consumer behavior.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Nov. 3-8 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.