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Over 30% Of Americans Say Their Financial Life Is 'Worse Than Expected'

The economy is improving.

In point of fact, the key benchmarks financial experts use to gauge the U.S. economy are largely trending upward these days. Gross domestic product, consumer sentiment, the stock market, and a rising interest rate policy by the Federal Reserve all signal a healthier U.S. monetary landscape.

So why are so many Americans so negative about their own financial situation these days?

That's a question tackled this week by the National Endowment for Financial Education. The Denver-based group produces an annual survey on Americans' new year's resolutions, and in 2017, the results are an eye opener.

The good news is that 68% of U.S. adults surveyed by the NEFE say they will prioritize improving their financial lives as a new year's resolution this year. The bad news is that 31% rate their personal financial situation as "worse than they expected it to be."

The gist of that financial anxiety is this - too many Americans believe they're experiencing a one-step-forward and two-steps back reality with their money management these days. According to NEFE, an alarmingly high number of Americans regularly suffer financial setbacks, with their cars, their homes (especially with costly maintenance problems), and health, among other issues, that keeps them lagging behind in their financial lives.

The survey also finds that 48% of Americans "admit that they are living paycheck to paycheck," thanks to high credit card debt, job woes and rising housing payments. All that adds up to "more financial stress," according to the NEFE study.

Recent political volatility isn't helping matters, experts say.

"People are down now because we just went through a very, some can say, depressing election period with half the country feeling sad over the result and the other half being largely the people who felt the brunt of bad economics over the years," says Arik Kislin, a real estate investor, developer and entrepreneur.

Kislin says that, with less income, joblessness and expenses rising, people who fall into the "worrisome" category are feeling the pain from debt that has been accumulating. "Essentially, they are dealing with the past," he notes. "The way to handle it is to look ahead to the future. We do not know what Trump will bring, but the economy is picking up, markets are gaining, and while people who don't agree with Trump might feel an emotional low, they should see the financial optimism as a positive."

To get a grip, or at least lock into a more positive monetary mindset, financial specialists advise looking for household "budget" leaders.

"A great way to get your financial life on track is to decide who will wear the 'family CFO' hat," explains from Kevin Brauer, chief financial officer at Affinity Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in New Jersey.