Americans are regaining confidence in their financial security, according to a new survey by Country Financial.
Higher savings rates and greater confidence in debt repayment ability pushed the Country Financial Security Index reading up one point to 65.8, the highest level since December 2009. This was the third consecutive month of gains in the index.
Confidence increased to its highest level in at least two years in several aspects of financial security. Half of the Americans surveyed said they were able to set aside money for savings, up six points to a three-year high. Eighty percent of the respondents said they are confident in their ability to pay debts, up three points since December. This is its highest reading since October 2008.
Positively ratings in overall financial security increased two points to 41 percent. Confidence in the ability to retire comfortably increased three points to 58 percent. Both are at their highest level since December 2009.
"It's been a while since Americans were feeling this optimistic,” said Keith Brannan, vice president of Financial Security Planning at COUNTRY Financial. “Steady improvements since September could signal people are breaking the recession mindset.”
There were differences in income and age groups, according to the survey, which polls at least 3,000 Americans by phone on a bimonthly basis. While other income groups' financial sentiments remained stable or declined, middle income earners grew more upbeat. Forty-eight percent with an annual household income of $60,000 to $75,000, and 53 percent with an income of $75,000 to $100,000 rate their overall financial security positively. These are up five and nine points from December, respectively.
Of all the age groups, 30- to 39-year-olds showed the largest uptick in their confidence this month. Fifty-eight percent were able to set aside money for savings, a 15-point jump. Sixty-one percent said they are confident in their ability to retire comfortably, an increase of eight points.
Michael Cohn writes for Accounting Today.