American Horror Story: The Financial Pandemic

halloween personal finance blog

A look inside the state of personal finance in America

‘Tis the season for witches, ghosts, and all things spooky. But, the most frightening thing of all is the skeleton in the closets of Americans nationwide—their financial health.

While it’s no secret that many Americans are suffering financially as a result of the pandemic, what is lurking in the shadows is gravely unnerving. PwC’s 2021 survey found that employee financial stress is up 63% since the start of the pandemic. The result? Employees are twice as likely to have used a payday loan, withdrawn from retirement accounts, or have considered postponing retirement. In addition, they are four times more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck.

63% of employees say that their financial stress has increased since the start of the pandemic – PwC

Even more frightening than the reality of the personal-finance crisis are the lengths Americans are going to hide their financial situations. A study from Nonfiction Research unveils these haunting realities.

The study found that Americans are living double lives when it comes to money—putting on masks around friends and family, and even more so on social media. Meanwhile, in reality, these same folks are desperately fighting financial demons.

Pop culture has created a distorted expectation of the American dream that is turning up the pressure for millennials and zoomers, in particular, to live a life well beyond their means. 28% even admit to intentionally making themselves look wealthier on social media.

This pressure is leading to unhealthy financial standards across the board. Credit card debt continues to creep up with 49% of Americans depending on credit cards to cover essential living expenses. And it’s even more common among younger generations: 61% of zoomers and 53% of millennials.

Speaking of financial monsters, there’s a new chronic condition amongst Americans: medical debt. At least half of Americans are carrying credit specific to medical expenses. Bone-chilling.

Further, 52% of Americans confess that they have, at some point, shed tears due to their financial circumstance. This feeling is not reserved for people in the middle- or even lower-income brackets, as 41% of those tears come from Americans with an annual income of $200,000 and up. And the spooky stats don’t stop there. Here are a few more that will keep you up at night:

  • Over half of Americans (57%) have avoided having a medical issue addressed because of cost
  • 39% of White individuals are considered Financially Healthy, while only 21% of Black and 24% of Latinx individuals are – Yahoo Finance
  • After dipping during the pandemic, Americans hold credit card debt of $998.4 billion as of September 2021
  • Women with less education have been hit hardest by job losses— just 41% of non-college-educated women and 46% of men were employed in 2020
  • 2.3 million women have left the U.S. workforce as of February 2021, compared with about 1.8 million men
  • The average retirement age is 64 for men and about 62 for women
  • Even before the pandemic, women were twice as likely to live in poverty during retirement
  • Women have 26% less saved for retirement than their male colleagues

personal finance tears giphy

Americans’ financial health may leave you feeling morbid but the good news is, these same Americans are open to financial guidance and many are seeking help–87% to be exact.

Because employees are taking this stress with them to work and are now leaning on employers more than ever for support, employers have the opportunity to support and are ramping up their efforts with financial empowerment(wellness) solutions. Not to mention, it’s a smart business move for decreasing attrition with 72% of employees reporting they’d be attracted to another company that cares more about financial well-being.

Employer-sponsored programs could be the nail in the coffin of this American Horror Story, and the cure for the financial pandemic.

Employers who take the time to understand the financial obstacles faced by employees and understand the most important trends shaping workplace benefits are the ones who will win the war for talent and improve financial outcomes for both employees and employers.” – Daniel Bryant, Author of The Financial Wellness Mandate

At Questis we see the light at the end of the tunnel and have brewed up the perfect potion for financial success: a personalized technology solution coupled with one-on-one coaching to assess problem areas, prescribe targeted solutions, and employ modern personal finance best practices. Questis uses behavioral science to help people heal their relationships with money so they can thrive in their roles and bring their best, whole selves to work.

See how it could work for your organization.

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