Finances Are Bigger Source of Stress Than Politics

Money woes trump politics, work and family concerns
A stressed woman at her computer

While political disagreements, family squabbles and workplace drama can all get one’s blood boiling, finances are the biggest stressor for consumers, a new survey by financial services provider Capital One Financial Corporation reveals.

To gain insight into whether finances inspire worry or optimism among consumers, Capital One commissioned survey research firm Morning Consult to poll 2,202 adults. What emerged is that money woes outweigh many other common concerns.

Financial stress trumped politics, work and family concerns, with the largest percentage of respondents — 73% — naming finances as a source of stress in their lives. In contrast, 59% said they were stressed over politics, 49% over work and 46% over family matters.

Among younger consumers, finances appear to be particularly stressful, with 82% of Generation Z and 81% of millennial respondents naming their finances as a contributor to stress in their lives. Millennial women were particularly stressed out by money, with 61% saying finances were “very stressful,” compared to 47% of millennial men who felt that way. (According to Pew Research, Generation Z is made up of adults between the ages of 18 and 22 in 2019 and millennials are defined as those between 23 and 38 in 2019.)

Some of the concern expressed by consumers relates to their credit scores. Approximately half of consumers (51%) said they check their credit scores regularly, while 25% said they check their scores if a bank or credit monitoring service suggests that they should. Some respondents were particularly concerned about their credit score during certain life events:

  • 62% were most concerned about their credit score when buying a house.
  • 60% were most concerned when buying a car.
  • 34% were most concerned when getting married or divorced.
  • 33% were most concerned when holiday shopping.

Others were not confident in their knowledge about credit. The survey found that 29% weren’t certain what they should do if they saw something unusual on their credit report.

Despite the concerns that consumers voiced about money and credit, many respondents also indicated optimism about their financial futures. Among all respondents, 42% said they expect to be better off financially a year from now, compared to only 10% who think they’ll be worse off financially at that time. Younger consumers were the most hopeful, with 53% of millennials expressing optimism about their financial futures. Only 6% of millennials expect to be in a worse place financially in a year.

Since money has such a huge impact on our overall well-being, it makes sense that it may cause concern. However, the more you know about managing money and the more confidence you have in your ability to handle financial challenges and setbacks, the less stressed you may be. One way to increase that confidence is to save more money, which can help you weather a financial storm should one happen. Setting up and maintaining a budget can also help you to manage your money and feel more in control of your spending.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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