The US economy may be improving, but on a personal level, things aren’t always quite so rosy. In fact, a new report says more than half of Americans are still struggling just to buy necessities.

Wendy Liebmann, CEO of analytic company WSL Strategic Retail, which analyzed answers from 2,000 survey respondents, said, the definition of “necessity” has changed, and that basics are now often defined as food, diapers or gas, adding, “There is a component to this of people thinking do I have to have this or do I want to have this?”

The study found that among women — who do most of the household purchasing in the US — 75 percent ranked price as the most important factor in a buying decision. What’s more, 67 percent were more interested in getting a better price than a brand-name product, a number that’s 22 percent higher than in 2004.

So how are people saving money?

  • 68 percent clip coupons
  • 45 percent only buy things when they’re on sale
  • 43 percent research discounts before shopping
  • 66 percent ask themselves “Is this a smart use of my money?” before going through with a purchase
  • 48 percent avoid stores where they might overspend
  • 43 percent buy less overall

[LiveScience]