BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Dec. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans feel slightly less confident about their financial security than they did six months ago. The negativity follows months of market uncertainty and concerning international developments.
The COUNTRY Financial Security Index, which gauges American sentiments on personal financial security, tapered off slightly to 66.6 points since reaching its highest levels of confidence in May (66.9). Similar to earlier this year, many don't believe their financial security is improving – 52 percent feel it is staying about the same while 15 percent of respondents feel their level of financial security is getting worse.
Areas where American confidence fell include:
- Retirement: Only 16 percent of respondents feel they are likely to have enough money to retire comfortably – a directional change from earlier this year, dropping two percentage points
- Debt: Less than three out of four Americans (74 percent) are confident they could pay debts as they come due, dropping from 78 percent six months ago
- Stability: Barely half (52 percent) feel confident their family would be able to live comfortably if they were to die or become disabled; that's down nine percentage points from earlier this year
Millennials overwhelmed by debt
While the majority of all Americans feel slightly less positive about their financial security, no one feels more uneasy than millennials. Just more than a third of this generation (36 percent) feels very confident in their ability to pay their debts as they come due, 11 percent less than the overall population.
"Millennials can become overwhelmed by debt due to student loans and increasing expenses as they move to new cities and enter the job force," said Troy Frerichs, director of wealth management at COUNTRY Financial. "Establishing a payment plan for their current debts can help them get in control of their finances – especially before taking on additional debts to purchase new cars or homes as they start families."
Women feel less confident than men
Although women typically dominate purchasing decisions, they express less confidence in their financial security than men (49 percent of men; 40 percent of women). What's more, only 40 percent of women report setting aside money for savings or investments, compared to 54 percent of men.
Additionally, just half of women (50 percent) feel they will be able to retire comfortably, compared to sixty percent of men.
Budgeting for the holidays
Americans feel the pressure of establishing financial security year round, but paying off debts and setting aside money for savings can be especially tough during the holidays.
"The holidays should be a joyous time and not spent worrying about the burden of extra costs," adds Frerichs. "If holiday bills are impacting your holiday bliss, be sure to plan in advance next year and set a budget to ensure you are able to enjoy the festivities and gift giving without damaging your financial well-being."
Tips to effectively plan for the holiday season include:
Track your holiday spending: Recording your expenses for gifts, festivities and other seasonal items like decorations will help you develop an overall budget. Reviewing what you spent in years past allows you to set manageable expectations and see where adjustments can be made when necessary.
Hold yourself accountable: Set a dollar amount you plan to spend for the season and stick to it. Establish that shopping budget well before the holidays come around. Not straying from your budget will ensure you stay on track for your overall financial plan, which you will be thankful for in the New Year.
Create a holiday fund: Like other expenses, significant holiday spending should be built into your overall budget so it doesn't deter your financial plan. When developing a yearly financial plan, map out how much you will dedicate to the season and set aside money throughout the year. Creating a holiday fund will allow you to spend without impacting other expenses or necessary purchases.
The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®
Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans' sentiments of their personal financial security. The Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com and on Twitter at @hellocountry.
The COUNTRY Financial Security Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by GfK, an independent research firm. Surveys were conducted using GfK's KnowledgePanel®, a national, probability-based panel designed to be representative of the general population and includes responses from approximately 1,000 U.S. adults for national surveys. The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
About COUNTRY Financial
The COUNTRY Financial group (www.countryfinancial.com) serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home, business and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.
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SOURCE COUNTRY Financial