The good news: Americans are feeling more optimistic about their finances. The bad news: that doesn't necessarily mean they're better at handling their finances.
According to the 2012 National Financial Capability Study, out earlier this week from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, Americans' financial habits have improved from the last time FINRA conducted its study in 2009. Still, they show a lack of financial literacy and a greater tendency to use products with high fees, including payday loans and check cashing centers.
The survey of more than 25,000 adults shows that the slowly recovering economy has had at least some positive impact on Americans' financial outlook. Nearly a quarter said they were satisfied with the condition of their current personal finances, vs. 16 percent who said the same in 2009. And more reported an easier time covering monthly expenses — 40 percent compared with 36 percent in 2009.
Yet even the areas that saw improvement need more work, says Gerri Walsh, president of the foundation.