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We're Facing Up to Our Financial Hangover

Brian O'Connell

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Americans are waking up to a long financial hangover from the Great Recession, and despite some good economic news of late, don't like what they see when they look in the mirror.

Analysts at Financial Finesse, an El Segundo, Calif., financial wellness services provider, call it an "awakening," and that's probably the best description of Americans realizing they may never meet their lifetime financial goals and have no control over their finances.

The good news? Financial Finesse reports that Americans have largely stopped blaming the economy for their financial troubles and are deciding it's up to them to cut spending and boost savings.

Liz Davidson, CEO and founder of Financial Finesse, says the initial shock from the Great Recession has largely worn off, and while major damage was done, workers see it as their "personal responsibility" to take back control of their finances and savings.

"Now that the economy has stabilized for the most part, employees are taking the opportunity to assess their situations in more detail," Davidson says. "They've stepped on the financial scale, so to speak, and are going 'Wow, this is worse than I thought.'"

"This is a good thing even if it is causing them to feel more stress over their circumstances, because they seem to recognize that they can no longer point to the stock market or the economy as the reason for their discomfort; they're taking action to address their vulnerabilities through factors they themselves can control."

Actually, the level of financial anxiety among Americans is rising, Financial Finesse says. Just 18% of adults reported high levels of financial stress in 2012, but that jumped to 23% last year.

Some other key data:

Fewer blame the economy and markets. Only 43% of Americans cite the economy or the financial markets as a chief source of stress, down from 47% last year. (That could be because the economy is improving slightly, and because the stock market has largely performed well in recent years.)

More people worry they won't meet financial goals. Adults who say they worry because they can't meet financial goals such as buying a home, saving for college or saving for retirement rose to 42% last year from 35% in 2012.

Women worry more. Women see their financial predicament in darker terms than men, wit 27% of women reporting high levels of stress compared with 17% of men last year.

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