smart spending

Americans' feelings on financial security

Americans are certainly starting out the new year with a positive attitude, at least as far as their financial security is concerned. Bankrate.com's Financial Security Index hit 102.6, the highest level since June. Improvement was seen most prominently in consumers' comfort level with debt and feelings about their overall financial situation. Consumers noted improvement over one year ago on four off five components of financial security: job security, debt, net worth and overall financial situation.

While Americans are still negative about savings, they are the least negative that they have been at any time since polling began in December 2010, with those feeling less comfortable with savings outnumbering those feeling more comfortable by just 3-to-2.

Among income groups, only the lowest income households – those earning less than $30,000 per year – were more inclined to say their overall financial situation is worse today than one year ago.

Despite the general optimism about financial security, Americans clutched their pocketbooks tightly during the holiday shopping season, with only 1-in-7 spending more than expected, while 26 percent spent less than expected. More than half, 57 percent, spent about what they'd expected to this holiday season. The tightfistedness was fairly universal, as no age group indicated it had spent more than expected and only the highest income group was more inclined to have spent more rather than less this holiday season.

For more information on this month's Financial Security Index, just visit Bankrate.com. I'm Greg McBride.

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