Surge in anxiety from money worries due to pandemic

Found a very good article here that discusses the anxiety of many of our friends in the UK. The article did a good job of illustrating some of the nuances of income in a pandemic situation. What does it mean to be furloughed? Unemployed and the very real fear of being an essential worker and the risk of infection.

From the article: The survey’s finding suggested that more than 25 million people – 49.6% of over-16s in Britain – rated their anxiety as “high”, more than double the amount who did so at the end of 2019.

Those suffering the greatest level of worry were an estimated 2.6 million people who said they were struggling to pay bills.

The survey data suggested that 8.6 million people had seen their income fall, with this group also reporting anxiety levels 16% higher than average.

Women reported anxiety levels 24% higher than men on average, with the ONS saying the difference might be because a larger proportion of women were either economically inactive, in lower paid jobs or working part time.”

I love numbers and statistics and I think we can all agree it’s hardly surprising that anxiety levels are rising. To be clear, the statistics and numbers above are projected out based on the survey results. They didn’t speak to millions of people but it’s statistically viable to extrapolate it out to the larger population. Now keep in mind this is a study done in Britain, it’s not necessarily representative of the rest of the world.

That said economies are going in the wrong direction and incomes are being lost. We do touch a little bit on personal finance on this blog. What I can tell you is, I have lived through many market down turns that were not financially created.

As an example, 9/11 was not a business event but the market responded and people lost jobs. It’s the same with covid. The pandemic affected the economy drastically but the underlying economic foundations were in a decent place. Interest rates were low, consumer spending was up, and businesses were making good profits.

I know that’s little consultation if you lost your job and your anxiety is through the roof. This is a place where government can help citizens, extending unemployment benefits, ensuring companies have opportunity to stay open and requiring wait periods on landlords to evict are a few examples.

For the individual there isn’t a lot I can tell you. We all have different skill sets and coping mechanisms. I would offer you some hope in the sense that you aren’t alone. There are more people now with anxiety then in recent memory and awareness of the issue is higher than ever before.

There is one singular thing you can do for your financial stability and peace of mind. Have a fully funded emergency fund which should be minimally 1000, but ideally 6 month’s worth of your expense. I have a post on what an emergency fund is linked here.

If you have one great, if you don’t it should be one of your top financial goals. It will help you a great deal during the next crisis. Hang in there, things will get better, one day at a time.