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Survey: Americans Aren't Feeling Rosy About Their Own Finances

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The economic forecast may be looking up, but a new survey says Americans aren't starting to feel any sunnier about their own finances. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

The stock market is up. So is consumer confidence. But a new survey by Money Magazine shows that Americans aren't exactly feeling rosy about their post-recession pocketbooks.

"It's been five years since the recession, and people are feeling very anxious about their money," says Donna Rosato, senior writer for Money Magazine. "It's like the Great Recession has given away to the great insecurity."

Regardless of income, plenty of people say they're worried about their family's economic security. The biggest source of anxiety: retirement.

"People are worried. Are they saving enough for retirement? Will social security be there for them?" Rosato says. "It's really the long term that makes people feel more anxious."

Which isn't to say they aren't also worried about the near term, especially since many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

"A lot of people admitted they really don't have a financial reserve, they don't have that emergency fund, and they are living paycheck to paycheck still, and that's something that really has to change if people want to feel more confident and less anxious about their money," Rosato says.

In fact, Rosato says building a safety net is the number one thing Americans can do to boost their financial confidence, and she says you're more likely to achieve that goal if you have a plan.

"All the research shows that anybody who puts some thought into what their financial goals are, writes them down, articulates them, they're going to feel more confident, and they actually save more and are on track to meet their goals," she says.

It also helps to have goals you can actually achieve, so think about tackling your financial priorities in smaller chunks. Saving $1 million for retirement is overwhelming. Setting aside $100 a month into an IRA is a lot more manageable.

"And it actually helps you celebrate your achievements, and that makes you feel more positive about what you are doing, gives you more motivation to move forward," Rosato says.

Rosato hopes these steps will go a long way to toward easing financial anxiety, but what she doesn't want is for us to get so relaxed that we let our guards down completely.

"The great recession taught us a lot of good lessons," she says. "It is good to save more, to pay down debt and to be frugal. Those are some long-lasting lessons that I think are going to serve everybody well."

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