‘Tis the Season for Worrying About Finances
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The Fiscal Times
November 25, 2013

As the holiday shopping season gets seriously underway,  Americans are feeling less secure about their finances than they were a year ago, a new poll finds.

Bankrate’s Financial Security Index stood at 99.3 in November. Readings below 100 indicate deteriorating financial security compared with the previous year. The biggest concerns this year are job security and savings.

Debt is also causing anxiety for many, but it’s weighing more heavily on younger Americans than it is on boomers. The survey found that 27 percent of adults under age 50 are less comfortable with their debt than they were last year – compared  to just 16 percent of those over age 50.

Related: Christmas Comes Early at the Gas Pump 

Among respondents age 50-64, those feeling less secure in their jobs compared to 12 months ago outnumber those more comfortable by 2-to-1. In that age group, those feeling less comfortable with their savings compared to 12 months ago outnumber those more comfortable by 3-to-1.

Just 19 percent of people age 50-64 report a better overall financial situation compared to last year, versus 25 percent for the overall population. Among those age 50-64, more say their overall situation is worse now (28 percent) than better (19 percent).

Across all age groups, more people feel less secure in their jobs than they did a year ago (20 percent) compared to those who feel more secure (17 percent). Job security turned negative in October and remained negative in November, after spending the majority of the year in positive territory.

The one positive financial security factor is net worth – with 29 percent of consumers reporting higher net worth than a year ago, compared to just 16 percent reporting a lower net worth.

Americans’ top financial priority was staying current or catching up on bills (36 percent), followed by paying down debt (20 percent), improving their savings (18 percent), and providing financial assistance to friends and family (12 percent).

“Americans’ financial priorities reflect the difficult economic realities of high unemployment, stagnant income, and the absence of new high-paying jobs,” Bankrate Senior Financial Analyst Greg McBride said in a statement.

Life + Money Editor Beth Braverman covers all things personal finance. Formerly a senior reporter and social media editor at MONEY magazine, she’s also held gigs as a newspaper reporter and trade magazine editor.