WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Most Americans feel well-equipped to make important financial decisions, but significant numbers worry they are making less progress than they should toward reaching financial goals, according to poll results announced today by The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) and National Journal. In the wake of challenging financial times, new data from the quarterly Allstate/ National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll reveals that five years after the economic crash, most Americans believe the country remains in the grips of a recession and express limited confidence in most major institutions, with many people skeptical about investing in the stock market. Instead of what are perceived as riskier investment strategies, Americans are relying more on their own understanding of financial planning, paying off debt, putting away savings, and seeking out friends or family for advice. Americans of all political stripes believe the recent federal government shutdown and national debt have negatively impacted them on a personal level. Three in four (73 percent) say the debt and deficit have directly affected their personal financial situation, a sentiment shared across party lines. Among those feeling personally affected, a third (33 percent) believe the main result will be to raise their taxes, and a quarter (26 percent) feel it will mean fewer opportunities for them to get jobs and increases in pay. Though most Americans (58 percent) believe participating in the financial system is the safest and most reliable way to provide a secure financial future for their families, a substantial percentage (35 percent) worry the system is too volatile, complicated, and unreliable to provide a secure future. Americans believe the economy is struggling, with more than half (53 percent) saying the U.S. remains in the grips of a recession, and few believing economic improvements are on the horizon.