Editors' pick: Originally published Jan. 11.

The economy is improving. The key benchmarks financial experts use to gauge the U.S. economy are largely trending upward. Gross domestic product, consumer sentiment, the stock market, and a rising interest rate policy by the Federal Reserve all signal a healthier U.S. monetary landscape.

So why are so many Americans so negative about their own financial situation these days?

That's a question tackled this week by the National Endowment for Financial Education. The Denver-based group produces an annual survey on Americans' new year's resolutions, and in 2017, the results are an eye opener.

The good news is that 68% of U.S. adults surveyed by the NEFE say they will prioritize improving their financial lives as a new year's resolution this year. The bad news is that 31% rate their personal financial situation as "worse than they expected it to be."

The gist of that financial anxiety is this - too many Americans believe they're experiencing a one-step-forward and two-steps back reality with their money management these days. According to NEFE, an alarmingly high number of Americans regularly suffer financial setbacks, with their cars, their homes (especially with costly maintenance problems), and health, among other issues, that keeps them lagging behind in their financial lives.

The survey also finds that 48% of Americans "admit that they are living paycheck to paycheck," thanks to high credit card debt, job woes and rising housing payments. All that adds up to "more financial stress," according to the NEFE study.

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