Spring Brings Mixture of Financial Optimism and Caution

COUNTRY Financial Security Index Continues Gradual Increase

Apr 17, 2012, 06:00 ET from COUNTRY Financial

BLOOMINGTON, Ill., April 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Spring seems to have sprung when it comes to Americans' finances. The COUNTRY Financial Security Index® inched up 0.4 points from February to 66.2. This uptick marks the fourth consecutive increase in financial security sentiments, the longest in the survey's five-year history.

Improvements in savings and optimism about college funding helped drive the overall increase.

  • Fifty-three percent were able to set aside money for savings this month, a three-point increase from February. This is the most able to save since October 2008.
  • Those confident in their ability to send their children to college jumped five points to 61 percent.

Despite these gains, Americans seem undecided about the future of their financial security.

  • Confidence in retirement savings and overall financial security both dropped one point to 57 and 41 percent, respectively.
  • Americans who said their overall level of financial security was getting worse inched up two points to 39 percent.

"With both gains and declines, the data seems to show cautious optimism. Americans might be unsure what shape economic recovery will take, which could be fueling their desire to save," says Keith Brannan, vice president of Financial Security Planning at COUNTRY Financial. "Start spring off right by cleaning up your finances to ensure confidence in all aspects of your financial situation."

For three tips to spring clean your finances, watch an exclusive video interview with Brannan at www.countryfinancialsecurityindex.com.

Big Financial Gains for 40-49 Year Olds
More than any other age group, 40-49 year olds exhibited strong optimism in both their short- and long-term money matters this month.

  • Eighty-one percent were confident in their ability to pay debts, up nine points. There was also a 13-point jump to 58 percent in those able to set aside money for savings.
  • Sixty-four percent were confident in their ability to send their children to college, a 12-point increase from February.
  • Confidence in retirement and those who rate their overall financial security positively were both up six points to 57 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

"No matter your age or income, everyone can build a financially secure future with the right planning," adds Brannan. "Whether you have a simple budget or a robust investment plan, having a plan is a vital starting place to reaching your financial goals."

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 June 19, 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 COUNTRY Index was created by COUNTRY Financial  and is compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm, based on a national telephone and online survey of at least 3,000 Americans.

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.