2 Surveys Reveal We're Feeling a Bit Better About Our Finances

Consumer confidenceTwo new surveys suggest that financial optimism is on the rise.

Research from Corporate Executive Board's Consumer Financial Monitor suggests that North American consumers are feeling more positive about most aspects of their personal finances. Sentiments about savings, debt, progress toward achieving financial goals and personal finances in general all improved compared to the previous quarter. The only downbeat note in the survey was income levels, about which consumers' feelings soured -- but only slightly.

Breaking down those figures, however, one finds that mass market consumers -- those who have less than $100,000 of investable assets -- continue to feel the least optimistic about their money situation: Currently, a net percentage of 21% report negative feelings about personal finances.

(Net percentage, you ask? Take the percentage who report positive feelings; subtract the percentage who report negative feelings: There's your net percentage, one way or the other.)

By comparison, a net percentage of 21% of the mass affluent -- defined as those with investable assets of $100,000 to just shy of $1 million -- report positive sentiments. Feeling best of all -- predictably, perhaps -- are so-called "high net worth" persons, or those with $1 million or more. A net percentage of 30% of these folks report feeling good about their personal finances. In the first quarter, 65% of North American consumers fell into the mass market category, with 30% and 5% qualifying as mass affluent and high net worth, respectively.

More Secure, But Still Scared of Stocks

Meanwhile, Bankrate.com's (RATE) monthly Financial Security Index hit a new high of 99.9 in April, surpassing the previous apex, 98.5, recorded in May 2011. (The first poll was taken in December 2010.)

"Americans' attitudes regarding their net worth and overall financial situation also reached new highs this month," the company reported. "Sentiment regarding savings improved for a fifth consecutive month, and Americans' comfort level with debt is at its highest point since June 2011."

Despite consumer financial security being at its highest point in 17 months, Bankrate found that Americans remain wary of investing in this stock market. Fully 76% of respondents said they were not more inclined to invest in the stock market despite near record-low interest rates for savings; a mere 18% said they were more inclined to do so. Job security also stuck out as a "pain point": 22% of Americans reported worse job security than they had one year ago; only 20% reported better job security.

Together, these surveys suggest a sense of overall economic improvement, but reflect the toll on our collective psyches of lackluster job creation -- both in terms of quantity and quality.

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Wayne Bradshaw

The City Council is examining a request to open a Gucci Outlet Store and retail shop at 11502 Middlebelt in the Livonia Crossroads shopping center on the southeast corner of Plymouth and Middlebelt roads.The council heard at a study session on Monday from Taylor Bond, president of Children's Orchard, who wants to open a 7,500-square-foot Gucci Outlets store at the site of the former Family Buggy restaurant, which was closed several years ago.

May 06 2012 at 12:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wayne Bradshaw

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May 05 2012 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sending our trades oveseas left millions of older workers out of good jobs and in debt with no means to pay it back. The shrinking retail jobs never paid our way an the crooks left us unemployed by their thieven ghetto managers trying to climb the stairs of success on our backs.

April 25 2012 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Looming college loan debt and defaults because there are no high paying jobs let alone any full time jobs needed to pay the loans back! The visa workers are getting the jobs while the US Grads are pulling pallets or going to Afghanistan or some other forsaken site.

April 25 2012 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know I am feeling better about my finances dears. I increased my income by 62% last year. And with President Obama extending tax cuts for rich people like me and himself that also contributed to increasing my wealth. Insider trading also helped me increase my wealth darlings. Oh and I must remember to thank the illegal’s that work in my vineyards for they too helped to fill up my piggy bank. I know no one will demand to see my tax returns, but I do worry about waking up one day and finding the Occupiers protesting out in front of my mansion. I am one of the greedy 1% that do not pay their fair share dearest darlings

April 25 2012 at 1:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

According to the Bloomberg news 1/3 of the lowering of the unemployment rate is just people dropping out of the work force and 2/3 is cyclicle.

April 25 2012 at 1:19 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Buddy it stinks out there an the sooner you admit it the sooner you will be making common sense!

April 25 2012 at 1:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

They must be smoking crack again!

April 25 2012 at 1:08 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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April 25 2012 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So they concluded that those with less feel worst and those with high net worth feel the best. Amazing, ain't it.

April 25 2012 at 11:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply