A measure of financial security has edged up since February, according to a new survey.
The COUNTRY Financial Security Index, published by COUNTRY Financial, Bloomington, Ill., inched up 0.4 points from February to 66.2. The uptick marks the fourth consecutive increase in financial security sentiments, the longest in the survey's five-year history, the company reports.
A bi-monthly measure, the index is an aggregate of factors comprising financial security, including savings and investments, financial planning, retirement, education and asset protection. The index is compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm, based on a national telephone and online survey of at least 3,000 Americans.
Improvements in savings and optimism about college funding helped drive the overall increase, the survey says. Fifty-three percent were able to set aside money for savings this month, a three-point increase from February. This is the most Americans were able to save since October 2008.
Those confident in their ability to send their children to college jumped five points to 61%. But the survey finds that Americans "seem undecided about the future of their financial security."
Confidence in retirement savings and financial security both dropped one point to 57% and 41%, respectively. Americans who said their overall level of financial security was getting worse inched up two points to 39%.
"With both gains and declines, the data seems to show cautious optimism," says Keith Brannan, vice president of Financial Security Planning at COUNTRY Financial in a prepared statement. "Americans might be unsure what shape economic recovery will take, which could be fueling their desire to save."
More than any other age group, 40-49 year olds exhibited strong optimism in both their short- and long-term money matters this month, the survey reports. Eighty-one percent were confident in their ability to pay debts, up nine points.
There was also a 13-point jump to 58% 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% and 41%, respectively.