Boomers Feeling (Slightly) More Financially Secure
Worried about keeping or finding a job, paying down debt and having enough money to retire, Boomers overall have been more pessimistic than any other age group when it comes to their own financial security.
But a new survey finds Boomers' fears over their financial situation have abated slightly over the past year and nearly a quarter of them are feeling more financial secure than they did 12 months ago.
Thanks to stock market gains and continued job growth, consumers' feelings of financial security overall improved markedly over the past month, according to new research from Bankrate.com.
Bankrate's March Financial Security Index reading of 101.5 is the highest since the company began its monthly polls in December 2010. The 4.7-point jump from February's 96.8 reading is the second biggest monthly gain in the index's history, after a five-point gain from April 2011 to May 2011. Bankrate says this is only the third time in the past 28 months that consumers surveyed say they are feeling better about their financial security versus 12 months prior.
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"People are not glowing by any means, but they are feeling more comfortable with their financial situation and their financial security than a year ago," says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate. "That is consistent with the steady economic improvement, an improved job market, as well as the rebound in home prices and new stock market highs."
That sentiment shared by many Boomers.
Twenty four percent of those 50- to 64-year-olds believe their overall financial situation is now better, nearly equal to the percentage who say it is worse. Half of that age group believe their financial situation is about the same as it was a year ago.
However, Boomers are more optimistic than in March 2012, when more than one-third of Boomers told Bankrate that their financial situation was worse than in 2011, only one-fifth said it was better and 43 percent said it was about the same.
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"Those 50 and up still have the lowest feelings of job security, lowest comfort levels with debt and the lowest readings on improvement in their overall financial situation - and lowest comfort level with savings," McBride says.
The survey reveals that consumers overall, however, are feeling better about job security, debt, net worth and their overall financial situations.
But it's a different story when it comes to savings.
"Savings is the Achilles' heel. And it's particularly pronounced among those 50 and up," McBride says.
Only 17 percent of those age 50 and up said they are "more comfortable" with the savings they have now versus what they had saved 12 months ago. Nearly a quarter of consumers under 50 are "more comfortable" with their savings.
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The number of those Boomers who are "less comfortable" with their savings is more than double those who are "more comfortable." That's still a better reading than a year ago, when among consumers age 50 and up, those who were "less comfortable" with their savings outnumbered those who are "more comfortable" by more than 4 to 1.
The Bankrate study again brings to light findings that are similar to those revealed last week by the Employee Benefits Research Institute's annual retirement confidence survey.
The 2013 EBRI survey found Americans' confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement was the lowest it had been in 23 years.
Many Americans have put retirement savings on the back burner, including Boomers, due to concerns about job security and mounting debt. Although workers ages 55 and older are more likely than younger workers to say they (and/or their spouse) are currently saving for retirement, 37 percent of workers who are 55 or older are not currently saving, according to the EBRI survey.