Bankrate.com has found that investors' risk aversion even applies over long investment horizons, with Americans most commonly saying that cash investments are the best way to invest money not needed for more than 10 years.
Cash edged out real estate as the favored investment, with 1 in 6 Americans favoring gold or other precious metals, even though those investments have been pummeled in 2013. Disturbingly, only 14 percent say stocks would be their choice, ahead of only bonds.
The fact that Americans don't save enough is well-documented, but hunkering down in cash investments and settling for low returns will only magnify the problem of not having a sufficient nest egg to meet longer-range goals like retirement. Other choices may not do the trick either, as real estate is not only very cash-intensive, but often illiquid. And precious metals spit out zero cash flows, with gains solely dependent on price appreciation.
On a brighter note, July is the fifth consecutive month that Americans have voiced an upbeat tone about financial security, with the Financial Security Index coming in at 102 even. While this is down just a touch from the record high of 102.7 last month, this is still the second highest level on record.
Americans cite improvement relative to one year ago on 4 of 5 components of financial security -- job security, comfort level with debt, net worth and overall financial situation. Savings is still the laggard.
Net worth continues to improve, mainly due to the housing market, with those reporting higher net worth compared to one year ago outnumbering those reporting lower net worth by nearly 2 to 1.
For more information on this month's Financial Security Index, just visit Bankrate.com.