There is admittedly no shortage of worries for consumers these days, as they balance the health risks of becoming infected with COVID-19 with the financial challenges posed by the pandemic. This has led to an increased prevalence in anxiety and depression, with many consumers thinking about seeking help.
In fact, 46% of adults say the pandemic and its economic fallout have led them to either seek help for symptoms associated with anxiety or depression or to consider doing so, according to a survey by debt relief organization Freedom Financial Network.
With money problems top of mind, some consumers also are cutting back on spending in a bid to maintain control.
Consumers’ finances in disarray
Money concerns have been particularly stressful for consumers recently, as 46% say they feel overwhelmed by their financial situation. Nearly 3 in 4 consumers — 73% — said the pandemic has either ‘moderately’ or ‘highly’ impacted their financial situation.
In particular, consumers reported the following financial stressors:
- Owing more than $10,000 on credit cards (32%)
- Having less than $1,000 in checking and savings (52%)
- Experiencing higher grocery bills because of the pandemic (44%)
- Spending, or expecting to spend, more on utilities because of the COVID-19 crisis (34%)
- Having pay or work hours cut or taking a lower-paying job due to the pandemic (32%)
- Losing a job or being furloughed (23%)
As a result of increased financial stress, 40% of respondents said they currently feel ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ about their financial security.
Consumers tightening their wallets in response
In response to their financial concerns, many consumers are changing their spending behaviors. When asked how their behaviors will change until the pandemic is brought under control:
- 46% said they will save more for emergencies
- 44% said they will seek out new sources of income
- 43% said they will cut back on spending for holiday gifts this year
- 40% said they will delay major vacations
In fact, nearly 6 in 10 adults — 59% — said they are either spending less on vacations this year or expecting to spend less because of the pandemic.
Women feeling the burden
Throughout the pandemic, studies have shown that women may be bearing the brunt of the strain. For example, an earlier survey found that 56% of women reported higher levels of anxiety because of the pandemic compared to 43% of men.
Additionally, some women have even considered leaving the workforce because of the challenges they are facing related to the pandemic. For instance, working mothers are more likely to feel unsupported by their employers during the pandemic than working fathers.
The Freedom Financial Network survey tells a similar story. It found that nearly half of women — 48% — said the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health compared to 34% of men.
Methodology: Freedom Financial Network commissioned polling firm Atomik Research to survey 2,007 consumers from Oct. 23-28, 2020. The margin of error for the survey sample was plus or minus 2%.