Yet Americans' confidence in their own abilities remains unwavering, supported by the strong belief that they are well-prepared to make important financial decisions in the wake of the Great Recession. Nearly nine in 10 (89 percent) say they're confident they understand information about important financial decisions writ large, and they're also highly confident they have the information needed to buy a home (77 percent), plan their retirement (75 percent), and set up an inheritance (64 percent).
"Despite the headwinds we continue to face, the resilience of the American people is alive and well," said Sanjay Gupta, executive vice president of marketing, innovation and corporate relations for Allstate. "It is this American trait and tradition of individual responsibility—more specifically, the ability to control one's financial decisions and destiny—that makes this country unique and continues to be the foundation of our culture, political, and financial system."
"With the stock market soaring, home prices recovering, and borrowing costs low, this survey suggests that Americans with means and credentials once again see the financial system as a reliable channel toward achieving their goals," writes Ronald Brownstein, editorial director for National Journal and Atlantic Media. "But for many Americans struggling to stay afloat after a decade of stagnant incomes, the financial system still looms like a cloud on the horizon—opaque, unpredictable, and vaguely menacing. This poll suggests that a clear challenge remains to create a financial system that all Americans believe can help them achieve their aspirations."
Watch a live briefing on key findings from the latest Heartland Monitor Poll today at 8:30 a.m. ET, at http://www.nationaljournal.com/events, featuring Sheila Bair , former chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).In evaluating their current situation, many Americans say they are falling behind on key financial milestones, including saving for retirement (44 percent), contributing to a 401k or IRA (42 percent), maintaining an emergency savings fund (47 percent), estate planning (54 percent) and investing in the stock market (50 percent). However, when it comes to paying off debt, Americans mostly believe they are either on track (54 percent) or ahead (21 percent); 65 percent of respondents also say they're on track with sticking to a monthly budget.