CHICAGO -- Most consumers claim that Americans are "addicted" to debt and many say they can't do much about it because their savings are too low and they live paycheck to paycheck.
The results of the most recent American Pulse, a survey conducted by BIGresearch, underscore how Americans increasingly are feeling like they're stuck between a rock and a hard place as the economy limps along.
"They wish they could save more. It's something they want do," Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for BIGresearch, said of the desires of most consumers surveyed. "But you need to have money to save money."
Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed said Americans were burdened by debt, with those who said so crossing all income levels.
However, when it came to admitting that their own debt was too high, there was more than a 10 percentage-point difference between respondents whose household income was under $50,000, at 46 percent, and those whose income was greater than $75,000, at 34 percent.
Just over two-thirds of respondents in that lower-income range confessed that their savings were too low, while 61 percent of them said they struggle for money between paychecks.
In the higher-paid group, 51.6 percent said their savings should be greater than they are. About a third of the respondents who earn more than $75,000 a year said they squeak by until payday.
Most also believe the problems they are facing and the slump in the economy are related to problems in the housing market.
Rist thinks the results also suggest that consumers will keep the brakes on spending. "Consumers want to control the areas of their lives that they can control," he said. "That ends up being discretionary spending.
"It doesn't mean they will stop spending," he added. "But they will be smarter about where they're going to spend their money and how. They're much less impulsive."