New survey shows rise in consumer sentiment

With gas prices trending downward from the $4 mark, more Americans are again feeling confident about their financial situations, according to new data from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan.

Consumer sentiment climbed to 74.3 in May from 69.8 a month earlier. Even with the 5-point increase, the index is still short of the 77.5 mark achieved in February, when a gallon of gas was roughly $1.5 less. May's number is also significantly less than the 87 averaged during the year prior to the recession.

Americans' feelings on the economy may rise even further if prices drop during the summer like Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics LLC, suggested to Bloomberg.

According to MarketWatch, some experts say the rise in confidence could be just the spark the economy needs to get going during the second half of the year.

The increasing optimism among Americans may stem from the fact that more individuals are paying down their credit card debt and working to improve their credit scores.

In addition to timely payments, some consumers may be able to improve their three digit numbers by working with a credit lawyer to identify problematic or questionable items on their records. Any negative mark that appears on a credit report that was not reported in compliance with federal mandates can be challenged for removal.