Attitudinal change about debt was just as dramatic, and here income plays a major role.
"Americans' comfort level with debt is now the highest since June 2011," says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate's senior financial analyst. "Households with annual income of $50,000 or higher are more comfortable than other groups while households with income under $30,000 are less comfortable."
With the stock market near four-year highs, more consumers are reporting higher net worth compared to a year ago than at any time since polling began in December 2010. Nearly one-third of poll respondents (29 percent) report higher net worth; 23 percent report lower net worth. Households with income of $50,000 or more are most likely to report higher net worth than last year.
Consumers' feelings about their overall financial situation also hit a new high, with 29 percent saying their overall finances are better today than 12 months ago, compared to 26 percent saying it's now worse. Again, the older-than-50 crowd is less upbeat than their younger cohorts, tending to report a worse financial situation than a year ago.
In light of the relatively sunny outlook on financial security, consumers should be feeling more optimistic about their prospects in the stock market, particularly with interest-bearing instruments paying such paltry yields. But Americans are not quite there yet.
"Low rates and the buoyant stock market have not been enough to sway investors' risk appetites," says McBride. "More than 3 out of 4 Americans, 76 percent, say they are not more inclined to invest in the stock market with savings rates so low, and just 18 percent of Americans say they are more inclined.
"Those under age 30 are only slightly more inclined to invest in the stock market, at 23 percent, despite having the luxury of long time horizons and a greater burden of retirement savings than any previous generations," he adds.
Sheyna Steiner explores Americans' nervousness about investing in her story, "Americans reject stock market investments." Also check out Bankrate's survey results and charts to see more details about April's Financial Security Index.