Americans’ financial outlook is improving, according to the December Country Financial Security Index. Thirty-eight percent rate their financial security positively, and another 15% sense their financial security is improving.

The number of people who sense an improvement was at its highest all year.

 However, because of a slight decline in those able to save and a decline in the ability of younger age groups to pay off debts, the overall index fell 0.3 points to 64.4.

And people’s outlook for 2011 is decidedly split, with 29% expecting their financial situation to improve in the coming year, 27% bracing for it to get worse, and 33% thinking it will remain the same.

Men are more optimistic than women about the coming year, with 32% of men and only 26% of women confident about the coming year. Sixty percent of men are confident they will be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement, compared to 50% of women.

“The contradictory sentiments we saw their month could be attributed to Americans’ loosening their purse strings for the holiday season to spread some holiday cheer,” said Keith Brannan, vice president of financial security planning at Country Financial.

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