This issue brief seeks to understand Americans' attitudes about their financial security. It examines the top-level findings from a nationally representative Pew-commissioned survey of more than 7,000 households and from focus groups convened in three major cities. The study finds that Americans are more optimistic about their finances and the economy than they have been in years. At the same time, however, nearly 6 in 10 say they are unprepared for a financial emergency, and only half say their households are financially secure. Retirement is a major concern, and most Americans report having experienced a financial shock in the previous year. The findings suggest that more work needs to be done to help encourage families' economic security today and to chart their path toward economic mobility in the future. As policymakers look for ways to bolster families' economic security, they can use these findings and Americans' own words about their balance sheets and perceptions to aid in the development and design of better, more effective policies.