Today, less than half (48%) of U.S. adults aged 25-65 say the American Dream is still attainable for most Americans, compared with 58% who said the same in 2009 the first year of the study. This is the initial set of findings from the 2017 Planning & Progress Study , an annual research project commissioned by Northwestern Mutual that explores Americans' attitudes and behaviors toward money, financial decision making, and the broader landscape issues impacting people's long-term financial security. "It appears we're at a financial flashpoint in America," said Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning at Northwestern Mutual. "In the near-term, people clearly feel a little better about the stability of the U.S. economy. At the same time, there's a drop in longer-term optimism around the attainability of the American Dream. Combined, it's a mix of improvement in the moment with uncertainty about the future." Financial Vulnerability is Down From 2016, but Still Runs High The 2017 Planning & Progress Study suggests that while Americans still feel a high degree of financial vulnerability, there are some signs of improvement over last year: The majority (67%) of U.S. adults 18 and over believe that, over time, there will likely be more financial crises. While the number is high, it's a sharp decline from the three-quarters (76%) who said the same in 2016. 43% of U.S. adults say the economy will be better this year than in 2016, versus 31% who said the same last year. 72% feel financially secure. And more than a third (38%) expect their financial security to increase in the next year, which is double the number (19%) who expect to feel less secure. Still, more than one in four (28%) Americans feel a level of financial insecurity, and more than one in ten (11%) feel "not at all secure." Financial Habits May Have Taken a Step Back Just as Americans are feeling slightly better about the country's economic footing, there are signs that their financial discipline has slipped. Despite widespread expectations that financial crises are likely to occur again, people have taken a small step backwards in terms of their long-term financial planning. The study found: Only 50% of U.S. adults 18 and over say they need a plan that anticipates up and down cycles. This is a drop from the 57% who said the same last year. Only 41% say their long-term savings strategy has a mix of high and low-risk investments, compared to 44% last year. "The hope here is that Americans aren't letting their financial guard down," said Barsch. "It's easy to have a short memory when it comes to financial discipline, but long-term risk management is not something to do in starts and stops. You need to plan for what can go right as well as what can go wrong, and it has to be consistent throughout market and economic cycles, and over the course of a lifetime." AboutThe 2017 Northwestern Mutual Planning & Progress Study The 2017 Planning & Progress Study was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual and included 2,117 American adults aged 18 or older (2,117 interviews with U.S.

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