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Ranking Their Austerities

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Surveys find Americans swearing up and down that they won't return to their bad old overspending ways, even after the economy recovers. But BIGresearch polling finds there's a hierarchy in their intentions to economize, with some sectors likelier targets than others.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said ("On my honor...") that, during the next five years, they'll try to be more price conscious when buying food and clothing. Nearly as many, 45 percent, said they'll try to spend less on dining out. Somewhat fewer claimed they will try to spend less on entertainment (35 percent) or to be more conservative when buying a car (28 percent).

When consumers do make big purchases, they'll be more likely to do so with money that's actually their own, as opposed to money they'll have to pay back to somebody -- or so they say. Forty-three percent of respondents to the polling (conducted earlier this month) vowed "to not incur a large credit-card debt" in the next five years. Salting money away is less urgent, as fewer (35 percent) said they intend "to save more of what I earn."