Americans' Financial Security Dramatically Improves, Study Finds

The financial security and habits of U.S. adults have dramatically improved, finds the 10th annual Planning & Progress Study from Northwestern Mutual.

To mark its anniversary, the report looks at how attitudes about money have changed among the then-25-year-olds who participated in the study. According to their findings, 71 percent feel financially secure compared with 47 percent who did in 2009. 73 percent say their financial situation is better now, and 88 percent say their financial habits are better.

Despite the progress, optimism has remained relatively flat. 54 percent say the American Dream is attainable for most Americans, which is down from 58 percent who agreed to that idea in 2009.

When it comes to retirement preparedness, 22 percent of Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement and 15 percent have no retirement savings at all. 56 percent say they don’t know how much they will need to retire comfortably and 45 percent say there is a chance they will outlive their savings and the majority of them have no taken steps to address it. 46 percent expect to work past the traditional retirement age of 65, but more than half of them say it will be by choice.