Even with an economy in distress, Americans are optimistic abouttheir personal finances, and those who have planned have a moreupbeat outlook, according to a new survey by Certified FinancialPlanner Board of Standards, Inc.

"While our country continues to grapple with sustainedunemployment and other economic headwinds, Americans have a morepositive outlook on their own personal finances," said Charles A.Moran, chair of CFP Board's board of directors. "And those peoplewho have a financial plan believe that their own financialsituation will improve over the next year and are willing tocontribute to the economy by spending more."

Key findings of the telephone survey of 1,011 adultsinclude:

  • The majority of Americans (59 percent) are not confident thatthe overall economy will rebound within the next year, and 29percent are not confident it will ever rebound.
  • The majority of respondents have experienced negative falloutfrom the recession, with 53 percent delaying a big purchase and 45percent dipping into their savings. Those who have experiencehardship are more likely to have a negative view of the overalleconomy or on their personal finances.
  • Despite the weak confidence in the economy as a whole,Americans have a slightly more encouraging attitude with regard totheir own finances, with 83 percent saying their personalfinancial situation would remain the same or improve during theupcoming year. This is particularly true with youngerAmericans.
  • Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe they would feel moreconfident about their finances if they had a financial plan inplace.
  • More than four in five (86 percent) respondents agree with thestatement, "Everyone should have a financial plan. Even if you havevery little money it is good to know in advance how you will spendit and the best means of growing what you have."
  • Nearly four out of five people (79 percent) claim to have afinancial plan; however, the majority do not have an official,written document. Almost half (46 percent) said they just have aplan in their head, and 11 percent only have notes or ideas writtendown. Only 42 percent of respondents said they had an officialwritten plan.
  • Trust in financial planners is shaken due to the recentfinancial crisis. However, if given one hour with a financialplanner, people would take advantage of it by focusing onretirement and budget planning. Thirty-six percent of Americansreported working with a financial planner or advisor.

Moran noted that these findings suggest there is "a gap betweenhow Americans view financial plans and knowing the best way tobuild and maintain one. They clearly understand the importance of afinancial plan, but too many Americans are not taking the necessarysteps to formalize it in a concrete, comprehensive way."

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