With investors slammed by the financial meltdown and the unemployment rate nearing 10% nationally, many Americans have put savings on the backburner in the past couple of years, but a new report by First Command Financial Services Inc. said Americans turned over a new leaf in the fourth quarter, increasing savings and slashing debt.

According to the First Command Financial Behaviors Index, which was released Tuesday, the number of middle-class consumers with a positive savings-to-debt ratio, or total savings compared to total debt, increased to 42% in December, the highest level since the index was launched in May 2008. In addition, the percentage of survey respondents with a positive savings-to-debt ratio rose to 55% among families with a financial planner, an 11-point increase since July.

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