Editor’s note: Anne Aldrich is partner at communications strategy research firm Artemis Strategy Group, Washington, D.C. 

Recently, my firm conducted primary research measuring hundreds of activities and attitudes through qualitative research and a large quantitative study (n=3,041). We then mapped the rational-to-emotional forces that underlie health and financial decision motivations.

As part of this research, we asked Americans how they feel about their finances on several levels. One of the more interesting questions is how they believe they stack up to their peers.

Confidence and anxiety are both tempered by age. Those under age 35 are more likely than their older counterparts to believe they are doing better financially than others their age.

Despite this sense of relative well-being among their peers, younger Americans report the highest levels of financial anxiety.

Age and experience may moderate views about finances. Those over 55 have the lowest levels of financial anxiety.

Americans of all ages aspire to achieve a broad range of financial goals. At the same time, differences in these financial goals emerge by age.

Roughly one quarter of younger and middle-aged adults are still overcoming and recovering from setbacks, a reminder of the continuing damage wrought by the financial recession.

Younger adults are more likely than others to be focused on stabilizing their finances (20 percent), while older adults are more likely to be protecting what they have accumulated (34 percent).

Americans of different generations use varied approaches to meet their goals. We looked at four dimensions of financial actions that people take: managing/educating, saving, debt reduction and income-related actions. Overall, younger adults take more actions in each of these dimensions than those who are older.

To paraphrase a popular saying, young people have...