NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Americans are cutting back expenses in an effort to save more, but we may be "penny wise and pound foolish" in doing so. In a study released by Ameriprise Financial, more than half of adults surveyed say they are saving up to an average of $185 per month by eating out less and by cutting back on entertainment and clothing expenses. But fewer Americans say they are scaling down on higher expense items, such as mortgage payments or rent (24%) or college education expenses (25%) – big ticket items that could save a family the most: an average of $475 per month.

Young adults are particularly house poor. Well more than half (60%) of Gen Xers and 77% of Millennial homeowners admit that their mortgage payments are "a stretch." In fact, a significant number say their mortgage is a "big financial stretch" (32% of Millennials and 21% of Gen Xers).

"The good news is that some Americans have taken action to reduce their housing expenses," says Pat O'Connell of Ameriprise. "Still, 60% of all survey respondents say they have not – and don't plan to – adjust the amount they're spending on housing in order to save more. Spending less on a mortgage or rent isn't easy, but it's important that Americans looking to move to a new home keep in mind their savings goals and set a realistic budget."

Millennials are particularly making an effort to trim expenses, including spending less on electronics (69%, compared to 57% of Gen Xers and 45% of Boomers) and car payments (32% – more than any other generation surveyed). Fully 79% of Millennials have cut back on eating out – while 70% of Gen Xers and only 51% of Boomers (51%) say they are dining out less.

GenY may be the most inclined to frugality but they are still battling with their budgets: Of those who own a car, 76% feel that their car payments have been a stretch and 78% say their credit card or other miscellaneous bills has made them feel stretched financially.

And while 57% of Millennials with access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan are contributing enough to take full advantage of their employer's match, more than two-thirds (69%) say they have either reduced their contributions to their at-work retirement plan -- or would consider doing so in the future.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet