We're all feeling more positive – except put-upon young workers
With the unemployment rate dropping, the economy showing real signs of life and even hints of tax cuts, Ireland's young workers must be at last starting to feel a bit more confident about their financial position. At least, you'd be forgiven for thinking so.
In fact, it's the grey-haired brigade, who've also been hit hard by austerity Budgets, who are the most upbeat about their financial prospects, according to the latest findings of the Standard Life Financial Confidence Index. Indeed, every single age group surveyed for the poll is more positive about their financial prospects now than they were in the previous quarter. Except one: those aged between 25 and 34.
It's the age group that felt the severe impact of emigration, as peers left in droves for better lives elsewhere. It's the people who had studied, earned degrees and then couldn't find work.
Having lived through a six-year economic war, they're battle-worn and weary. After the hardship that they've witnessed, perhaps it just takes more than statistics to persuade them that things may be finally turning around for the better.
But their continuing financial despondency is also bad news for the country. This is the age group most likely to have thoughts of marriage, buying their first home and starting families on their minds. If they're not feeling confident about their finances, they'll procrastinate, delaying purchases and spending that could have helped to spur the domestic economy.
The Standard Life index shows that those aged 65 and over now score 63.1 on the financial confidence index, with any figure above 50 indicating increasing confidence, and any below that decreasing confidence. The latest score compares to 58.9 for that age group in the previous quarter, at the end of September.
Those aged between 35 and 44 are also feeling better about their financial position, with their score on the index having increased from 47.7 to 51.3 quarter-on-quarter.
The least confident – those aged between 25 and 34 – have a score which has fallen to 46.5 from 48. Overall, the index hit 51 at the end of December, up from 49.4 at the end of the previous quarter.
But while things are looking up generally, just about everyone in the country was more downbeat about their financial prospects at the end of last month than they were at the beginning of 2013. Indeed, the index hit an all-time low in July last year as the Anglo Tapes and Ireland's return to recession dampened spirits.
Yet the quarter-on-quarter improvement in sentiment is still to be welcomed, especially as it came in a quarter when the Budget was unveiled. It's the first time the index has increased in two consecutive quarters since 2008.
Confidence has steadily improved, according to Standard Life's Brendan Barr, its head of marketing.
"The October Budget was generally neutral for most people's pay packets, the first time in many years that most people haven't felt worse off after a Budget."