The latest statistics on the psychological effects of COVID-19 confirm what many Americans already know to be true — people are stressed about money. A new poll shows that 88 percent of Americans say that the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic has caused financial stress, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.
Survey participants indicated their financial stresses are related primarily to not having enough in their emergency fund and their concerns about job security, with 41 and 39 percent of participants ranking these issues among their top five concerns respectively.
Also highly ranked were concerns about paying the rent or mortgage, a hot button issue for many individuals as COVID-19’s economic fallout enters its third month. More than a quarter of Americans surveyed also indicated they were worried about paying their utility bills, as well.
Combating Financial Stress During Coronavirus
Given the unprecedented and far-reaching nature of the recession resulting from COVID-19, it’s become difficult for many to not worry about their future physical and financial well-being. But certain approaches to how one thinks about money can alleviate unnecessary financial stress throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
For those experiencing money-related anxiety, it helps to recognize which factors you are able to change — and which are outside your command.
“When things seem out of control, control what you can,” wrote certified financial planner and Rutgers University professor emeritus Barbara O’Neill in a previous column for CentSai.
“We cannot control COVID-19, or the stock market, or the closing of schools, but that does not mean we are powerless,” O’Neill adds. She goes on to recommend steps in revising your budget and seeking out local resources for recourse as the pandemic winds on. In essence, take stock of elements anyone can alter in their day-to-day lives.
Similarly, recognizing your own “triggers” as they relate to financial anxiety, and perhaps your past experiences with money, can help in reducing money-related stress.
“Emotional responses are embedded in a memory network that’s created through an experience,” says financial therapist Michelle Bohls. “Money stress is embedded in those past experiences. Money becomes a trigger.”
Identifying said triggers and working toward confronting or eliminating them is an individual step you can take regardless of whether the market is up or down.
Reducing Money-Related Depression
Seeking mental health services during this period may seem low on your priority list, but maintaining good mental health is just as important as your physical well-being.
Thankfully, it’s possible to receive talk therapy during this period without breaking the bank — or even going in person.
“When I was uninsured, the cost of therapy out-of-pocket was close to $100 per hour at the time. But after doing some research, I found out the local graduate counseling program offered community clinics, and their sessions were $15 an hour,” recounts mental health and personal finance writer Melanie Lockert.
If you need to talk to a professional, inquire about sliding scale payment. Many therapists are willing to accommodate financial needs. Additionally, consider therapy apps and websites such as TalkSpace, 7cups, and Theravive for affordable, remote options.
Taking stock also of your own employment situation can also be helpful with regard to long-term happiness. Ask yourself if your depression is primarily related to your issues with money or to issues with your employer.
The Bottom Line on Financial Stress During the Coronavirus Pandemic
While it might take some time to find your dream role as the economy recovers, shifting your work toward multiple part-time positions or exploring your side gig is always worth considering — you really can’t put a price on happiness in the end. Thankfully you can stay current on the latest labor market trends, and alleviate some financial stress during coronavirus, by following CentSai’s COVID-19 page as you build toward your professional goals.