Are we a nation of nervous Nellies? Right now, if the topic is money, the answer is likely yes.

According to Bankrate.com's latest Financial Security Index, taken Aug. 4 through Aug. 7, during a hellish week when the U.S. credit rating fell and stock markets swung wildly, consumers' feelings about their savings, net worth, job security and overall financial security reached a new level of despair for 2011, with the index hitting a low of 92.3, down from 95.6 the month before. On the scale, 100 signifies that consumers feel the same level of financial security as they did 12 months earlier.

Some 47% of those polled said they are less comfortable with their current savings, compared to a year ago. Then too, 35% said their overall financial situation is worse than this time last year, while only 19% said they are doing better.

Americans are more skittish about their jobs, with one third of those between 30 and 64 years old feeling less secure in their jobs than they did at this time last year, according to the Index.

They aren't saving as much either. Nearly 30% said they are saving less for retirement than they were a year ago, while only 15% said they are saving more.

The fear is even greater for those in the 50-and-over club. More than half of them said they're less comfortable with the amount of savings they have today, compared to 12 months ago. According to Bankrate.com, 41% of seniors said their overall financial situation is worse now than this time last year.

"Clearly, consumers' sense of financial security has been shaken in recent weeks," says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com. "That fear can further jeopardize the health of the economy, if people choose to shy away from big-ticket and discretionary purchases."

Instead of panicking, it's time to put best practices in place.

"Nothing helps better when there is economic uncertainty than knowing you have an emergency cushion," says McBride. "Boost your emergency savings and you'll not only solidify your financial position, but also have peace of mind."

In addition to increasing emergency funds, take the pressure off the "what ifs" by reducing your debt level. "Paying down debt will create a little breathing room in your budget," says McBride.

And right now, when many investors feel like they're gasping for air, breathing room is an excellent thing to have.

How Are You Feeling About Your Finances Compared to 12 Months Ago?
Great. I am much better off now.\n131 (11.8%)
Okay. I have a little money saved.\n301 (27.1%)
Worried. I don\'t have much saved and I have a lot of debt.362 (32.6%)
Panicked. I just lost my job.82 (7.4%)
I am not great, but not worried either. I believe everything will work out somehow.235 (21.2%)

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Johnson Smith

This is because of the debt crisis that they are not able to trust the finances
http://www.whichpayday.co.uk/

September 06 2011 at 7:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
klc439

As long as you have your income and savings, the stock market shouldn't worry you. Find out why here http://www.carriecoghill.com/_blog/Carrie's__Blog/post/Don't_Let_The_Stock_Market_Get_You_Down/

August 29 2011 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scottee

government debt, corporate debt, personal debt....will make you feel insecure. because you ARE not secure with debt. how did we get away from being a nation of savers to a nation of spenders and debtors? I guess you should ask congress and The Fed.

August 25 2011 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dabrownman

What is the definition of an; extremist, racist, terrorist, hostage taker, homophobe, Nazi, religious cult followers who should all go to hell?

One who thinks they are taxed too much and believes in; God given constitutional rights, being responsible for ones own actions, the sanctity of life, decent morals, courtesy and tolerance, fairness, decency, honesty, hard work, freedom of speech, our children living better than we do and the freedom of religion. One who also supports; a strong national defense, the right to bear arms, balancing personal, local, city, state and federal budgets, spending no more than what you have, smaller government at all levels with less intrusive government regulations, lower taxes to reflect smaller government that does not bail out the failed or pick winners, secure borders, energy independence including drilling for domestic oil reseerves, legal immigration, enforcement of law, supporting our foreign allies, revising Social Security and Medicare so they are financially secure in the future and not socialist ponzi schemes doomed to financial failures. One who is proud to say the Pledge of allegiance and proud to be an American that helped make America great.

Never forget at election time who on the left called you these names just for being a; normal, in the vast majority, law abiding citizen who likely served their country first, who made themselves, their children and this country great.

August 24 2011 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DDerr

I just wish Bush and Obama hadnt stuck their heads.... and OUR MONEY... into bailing out businesses and banks that could NOT compete fairly, even with their "genius" MBA's, CEO's and manager upon manager... Now, we are $15 trillion in debt, and we are not even close to the time when any actual bailouts should have occured. If our illustrious politcians hadnt bailed out all the businesses and banks, those zillionair MBAs and CEOs would have been out on their ass, and the ridiculous amount of banks would have been thinned out.
Folks, work hard, raise your kids with kindness and common sense, teach them about the flaws of america so that they may change them, discourage freeloading of any kind, and for gosh sakes... save your money! We have a very dark decade ahead.

August 24 2011 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DDerr's comment
scottee

yep, both parties are at fault here...BOTH. hence the tea party.

August 25 2011 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scottee

let the free market determine interest rates. we need to be a country of savers...not spenders and debtors.

August 24 2011 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
daballofire

Well, when your net worth falls another15% in 4 weeks because of massive stock market losses, Americans feel worse off than they did before it happened. Is that earth shattering?

They will feel better when the socialists are driven out of Washingoton in 2012.

August 24 2011 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gramps180

Ben is scheduled to make a speech soon. i am sure what he will say will benefit the average citizen lol. (tongue in cheek).

August 24 2011 at 10:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
gramps180

I cant believe aol allows bots to make advertising comments on these pages.

August 24 2011 at 10:48 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
rcumor

Oh boy, another shot at cheap gold....will load up when it get to 1750.00an oz

August 24 2011 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply