NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — Nearly four in ten Americans (38%) plan to spend less money purchasing gifts this holiday season than they did last year, according to a new Bankrate.com report. Only 14% said they plan to spend more this year, and 47% plan to spend about the same amount as last year.

Consumers planning to spend less outnumber those planning to spend more in each age and income group. This disparity increases with age. Households with income less than $50,000 are the most likely to say they plan to spend less this year.

"Many Americans continue to struggle with little or no savings and stagnant wages, forcing them to rein in their spending this holiday season," said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com's senior financial analyst. "Overall, Americans are feeling more financially secure after the government shutdown and debt ceiling saga were resolved, but many are still clutching their pocketbooks closely."

Americans' feelings of financial security are now at their highest level since August. They are in positive territory for each age group under age 65. Overall, 25% of Americans feel better about their finances than they did last year, and 18% feel worse.

"The dent to consumer confidence from the government shutdown is in now in the rearview mirror," he said. "Consumers are feeling better about their overall financial and job security. They continue to report higher net worth thanks to improvements in housing and the stock markets."

Bankrate.com's Financial Security Index registered a 100.4 in December; readings above 100 indicate improved financial security compared with one year previous. The index dipped into negative territory in September, October and November, due in large part to the uncertainty in Washington, D.C.

Feelings of job security turned positive in December for the first time since September, completely unwinding the negative sentiment of the past two months. Net worth continues to be a strong area of financial security: those reporting higher net worth than one year ago outnumber those reporting lower net worth by a margin of three-to-two.

Savings is the only area of financial security that has elicited negative feelings every month since the poll debuted in December 2010.

"It is a reflection of the fact that many American households are still struggling with stagnant incomes that are limiting their ability to spend during the holiday season and year round," said McBride. "Savings is the Achilles heel, and they have not been able to move the needle. When consumers do experience income growth, they can increase their spending on a sustainable basis, which will propel the economy and move the needle on their personal savings."

The recession has made more consumers aware of how important it is to plan for setbacks and emergencies, said Gail Cunningham, vice president of membership and public relations for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.