On the heels of a successful 2014, Americans feel confident about their 2015 financial outlook. According to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey, 85 percent of Americans say their personal financial situation will be better or remain the same in the year to come, with 38 percent saying it'll be better. Millennials are the most optimistic as half of them say their finances will improve.

Many people started 2015 on a high note financially. Among those who set financial goals for themselves in 2014, an overwhelming majority (80 percent) say they achieved at least some of their goals. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) say they achieved all of them.

This year, Americans are aspiring to continue their financial success by making a budget and maintaining it, as well as paying down debt and increasing their retirement savings.

  • Seventy percent say they are likely to set a budget and stick to it in 2015. That includes 54 percent of people who did not set financial goals at all in 2014.
  • Among those who accomplished some or all of their financial goals last year, 80 percent of them say they are likely to again set a budget and stick to it this year.
  • For Americans with debt, 30 percent say 2015 is the year they will probably get out of debt.

When it comes to making progress on the long-term goal of saving for retirement, however, Americans are split. While 49 percent say 2015 will be a year they contribute more to their retirement savings, an equal number say it's only somewhat likely or not likely at all that they will contribute more in the year to come.

"Americans have a lot to be proud of after 2014, especially their dedication to achieving their goals and budgeting, which are key components of becoming financially secure," says Troy Frerichs, director of wealth management at COUNTRY Financial. "In 2015, many are highly focused on shorter-term goals like saving money and paying down debt. However, it's important not to lose sight of the long-term challenges, and no annual financial plan is complete without resolutions to work toward those longer-term goals like retirement."

Charitable giving takes a back seat

While Americans are planning to budget and improve their financial security in 2015, fewer seem to be factoring in charitable donations than in years past.

Fifty-eight percent say they are likely to donate their time or money to charities in 2015.

According to a Gallup poll, in December 2013, 83 percent of Americans said they donated their money and 65 percent said they volunteered their time in 2013.

Americans age 50-64 are most likely to donate their time or money in 2015, with those age 18-29 being least likely, 70 and 44 percent, respectively.

"Though last year might have been a financial comeback for a lot of people, they could still be worried about their finances, leading them to cut back on donating to charity," says Frerichs. "If giving back is a goal for you, treat it is as you would any financial goal. Set a savings plan and take advantage of an automatic withdrawal to stay on track."

A Not So Secure 2015 for All

Although 2014 was a positive year for many, not everyone was able to accomplish their goals and some didn't even set them to begin with. Missing their goals might also be discouraging people from trying again in 2015.

  • Nearly a quarter of Americans (23 percent) did not set any financial goals for 2014. Among those who did, however, 18 percent did not achieve any of them during the last year.
  • Among those who did not achieve their financial goals in 2014, 40 percent are unlikely to attempt to set a budget in 2015.
  • No matter the confidence one might have starting 2015, the threat of cyberattacks continues to worry a majority of Americans and gives new meaning to financial "security."
  • Fifty-one percent of people are very or somewhat concerned they might be the victim of a data breach this year.
  • Cybersecurity fears tend to increase with age. Millennials are the least worried, while 50-64 year olds are the most, 34 and 63 percent, respectively.

"Perhaps the most important thing to remember about financial planning is that you should never feel afraid or intimidated," says Frerichs. "The purpose of setting goals is to make you feel more secure and confident in your situation, not less. If you need help, consider asking a family member, friend or financial planner for tips for getting started."

Source: www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com