Was it the record-setting heat this month, or are Americans feeling the effects of an economic slowdown from the first quarter? Whatever the cause, feelings about personal finances have sagged. In July, Bankrate's Financial Security Index dipped to 97.9, the lowest level since March. Readings on all five components of the index slipped -- job security, savings, debt, net worth and overall financial situation.
A score of 100 indicates neutral feelings of financial security relative to one year ago, while a reading below or above it signifies pessimism or optimism, respectively.
"Interestingly, despite another poor jobs report in early July, feelings of job security were the least affected and remain the component of financial security that Americans feel is most improved relative to one year ago," says Bankrate's senior financial analyst, Greg McBride, CFA. "Just 19 percent of Americans feel less job security than one year ago."
Nevertheless, Americans' feelings about their overall financial security turned negative in July, with 28 percent revealing their situation is worse now than one year ago, while just 23 percent feel better. This is the first time since March that more Americans feel their overall financial situation is worse rather than better.
Comfort levels with savings fell, with 39 percent of Americans feeling less comfortable with their savings compared to the previous year and just 16 percent feeling better about their savings.
More people in July (24 percent) expressed increased discomfort with their debt levels as well; it's up 6 percentage points from June's 18 percent.
Bankrate's Financial Security Index gauges how Americans feel today versus a year ago on vital financial matters. An index value of less than 100 indicates declining levels of financial security; a value greater than 100 reveals higher levels of security compared to 12 months ago.