smart spending

Americans' feelings on financial security

We're in the height of the holiday shopping season, but according to Bankrate.com's latest nationwide poll, only 14 percent of Americans plan to spend more this holiday season than they did last year. This compares to 10 percent that said so when we last asked the question in 2011, so there hasn't been much improvement since, a reflection of stagnant incomes and the financial belt-tightening that is still taking place in many households.

Nearly half -- 47 percent – said they plan to spend the same amount as last year, and 38 percent say they actually plan to spend less this year. People do have a track record of saying one thing and doing another, but these responses continue to indicate that the majority of Americans don't have a lot of extra money to throw around, and won't be going hog-wild at the mall this holiday season.

On a brighter note, Americans' feelings of financial security have completely recovered from the government shutdown and debt ceiling saga that undermined feelings of financial security in the three prior months. The Financial Security Index climbed back into positive territory, rising to 100.4, the highest level since August. Any reading above 100 indicates improved financial security compared to one year ago.

This month's results were driven by notable improvement in feelings of job security and overall financial situation, with continued increases in household net worth.

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

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