Pessimism About Finances Persists

Have fears about the economy or the volatile stock market caused you to cut back on spending?

Such fears affected 4 out of 10 Americans, according to Bankrate's Financial Security Index. Bankrate reporter Sheyna Steiner explores this phenomenon in her story, "Recession Fears Tighten Purse Strings."

Every month, Bankrate takes the pulse of Americans, gauging how they feel today versus a year ago on vital financial matters pertaining to job security, savings, debt, net worth and their overall financial situation.

Bankrate's Financial Security Index for the month of September reveals Americans are feeling marginally better about their personal finances compared to last month, when consumer sentiment fell to all-time lows. The Index rebounded slightly from the August trough, rising from 92.3 to 93.9 -- still the third-lowest level since polling commenced in December 2010.

Any index value below 100 indicates declining levels of financial security compared to 12 months ago.

From August to September, Americans' comfort levels about job security and their level of savings increased more than their feelings about net worth and overall financial situation did. However, for the second month in a row readings on all five components indicate sinking feelings of security and comfort compared to 12 months ago.

Among the highest-income households, financial security turned positive after August's dip into pessimistic territory. But even here, feelings of job security were unchanged from August, indicating pessimistic feelings compared to 12 months ago. Americans who are 50 or older feel particularly vulnerable with just 10% saying they feel more secure in their jobs than they did last year. About a quarter of those younger than 30 feel more job security -- still low levels overall.

For highlights about this month's Financial Security Index findings, check out Bankrate's slideshow, which offers more details plus expert advice on how to improve your financial security. After all, that's what matters most.