Americans’ financial outlook is ending 2011 with a continued rise in confidence, the Country Financial Security Index shows. The index rose 1.6 points in December, to end the year at 64.8.

The poll of 3,000 adults found that while people are split on whether the economy will improve in 2012, a majority are taking a long-term view.

Asked what their top personal goals for the New Year are, the top is reducing debt (for 27%) and increasing savings (19%). Asked that national economic issue will have the most impact on them in the coming year, 28% said the federal budget deficit.

The most optimistic group is the young, led by Gen Y’ers between the ages of 18 and 29.

Among all age groups, 41% said they are financial secure, up from 21% in the previous, October poll. Seventy-three age confident in their ability to pay debts, up from 51% in October.

“It’s encouraging to see Americans becoming more upbeat about their financial outlook,” said Keith Brannan, vice president of financial security planning at Country Financial. “News of record holiday spending and declining unemployment could be positively affecting Americans’ financial sentiments. Let’s hope they can sustain that confidence in 2012.”

Lee Barney writes for Money Management Executive.