BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- While financial sentiments steadily eroded for most of 2011, Americans ended the year on a more upbeat note. The COUNTRY Financial Security Index® increased again in December, jumping 1.6 points to 64.8. Americans' confidence in both their ability to pay debts and their overall financial state, which each rose four points, helped drive this increase.
Despite this optimism, people are split on their fiscal outlooks for the upcoming year. However, they are putting a higher priority on long-term money matters.
- Thirty percent say 2012 will be better than 2011. However, almost an equal number say it will be worse (28 percent) or about the same (32 percent).
- Eighteen percent say planning for retirement is the one financial area they will work on most next year, up six points from January.
"News of record holiday spending and declining unemployment could be positively affecting Americans' financial sentiments," says Keith Brannan, vice president of Financial Security Planning. "Start the year off right by reviewing your financial plan. Having a detailed plan is the cure for new year uncertainty."
To see the lessons Americans learned this year and how they affect 2012 planning, watch an exclusive video interview with Brannan at www.countryfinancialsecurityindex.com. For three financial tips to improve your 2012 planning, visit the COUNTRY Financial blog at www.mynameiscountry.com.
Personal Priorities Mirror National Concerns
Reducing debt (27 percent) and boosting savings (19 percent) are the top 2012 personal priorities for Americans. These goals reflect their national concerns. When asked which national economic issue will most impact them, 28 percent cited the federal budget deficit and the level of government spending.
"Gen Y" Optimism through the Roof
The "Gen Y" age group (18 to 29) is ending 2011 with significantly more upbeat financial sentiments and a rosy outlook on the year to come.
- Forty-one percent rate their overall level of financial security positively, a 20 point increase.
- Seventy-three percent are confident in their ability to pay debts, also up 20 points since October.
"Gen Y" expressed more confidence in their financial outlook than any other age group. Forty percent say they expect 2012 to be better for them financially than 2011.
"It's encouraging to see Americans becoming more upbeat about their financial outlook. Let's hope they can sustain that confidence in 2012," adds Brannan. "Most people can build a financially secure future for themselves with the right planning. The new year is an excellent time to get started.
To access embeddable data charts and video interviews about the latest COUNTRY Index data please visit www.countryfinancialsecurityindex.com. Individuals can also learn more and compare their own results with the national COUNTRY Financial Security Index. The next COUNTRY Financial Security Index will be released February 21, 2012 and subsequently every other month.
The COUNTRY Financial Security Index
The COUNTRY Financial Security Index® is a bi-monthly measure of Americans' sentiments toward their overall financial security. It is an aggregate of various factors comprising financial security including savings and investments, financial planning, retirement, education and asset protection.
The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
COUNTRY Financial (http://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 and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.
SOURCE COUNTRY Financial