Are Americans adjusting financially to the pandemic lockdowns?
Data from CompareCards by LendingTree suggests most people are doing okay as October opens for business – but certainly not everybody.
In a new report, the company finds that about 6 in 10 credit cardholders say they are better off financially today than they expected to be when the pandemic began.
In pulling its data together, CompareCards notes the primary intent “wasn’t just to find out how cardholders felt about their current finances. It was about expectations. It was about comparing what they expected when the pandemic took hold in the spring versus where things stand today.”
The study also took a closer look at demographic breakdowns, especially between genders, where company analysts found a “great financial divide.”
This from the report.
Better off than expected: 57% of credit cardholders agreed that they are better off now financially than they expected to be when the pandemic began. Just 16% disagreed.
All about the jobs: The two biggest reasons given for being better off than expected were, “I was worried I’d lose my job, but I didn’t” (30%), and “I was furloughed but I’ve since been brought back to work” (19%).
Disappointed in government response: The most common reason given for saying things were not better than expected was, “I expected more help from the government” (27%). Second: “I lost my job and haven’t gotten a new one” (21%).
Wide gender gap: Nearly three in four men agreed that they were better off financially than they expected to be compared with just 4 in 10 women.
Political party differences: Republicans were the most likely to agree they are better off financially, while Independents were the least, by a significant margin.
Massive differences by age group: Generation X'ers were by far, the most likely to agree that they are better off today than they expected to be when the pandemic began.
To aid those Americans who have yet to find solid financial footing, LendingTree’s Chief Credit Analyst, Matt Schulz offers some actions steps that can help square away tough money issues:
Tips for those who are struggling financially:
Prioritize: As much as you may love it, that gym membership may not fit your budget for a while. Same with that streaming service. When times get tough, your financial focus must be on what matters the most. Look at your budget, get honest with yourself about your situation, and then move forward.
Ask for help: It’s not always easy to do, but it is important. For example, you could talk to a friend or relative or consider credit counseling. Also, credit cardholders going through tough times would be wise to call their card issuers and ask for assistance. Financial institutions have programs designed to help folks in short-term times of need, but you must approach them.
Give yourself a break: Unemployment is brutal. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by what you’re facing, but it is also important to take time for your mental health. Whether you prefer to walk, read, meditate, shoot baskets, play board games or something else, keep carving time out of every day to do it. It doesn’t have to cost a penny, but it’ll make a world of difference.
Schulz also offers a few tips to Americans who are in a good place financially these days.
Tips for those who feel good financially:
Keep putting money away: Americans’ savings rates skyrocketed as the pandemic took hold and people had fewer places to spend. That can’t last, but it is vital that we don’t just stop saving altogether. After all, it may not be raining today, but that doesn’t mean a storm won’t hit tomorrow.
Revisit your budget: Chances are you’re home more than normal and may have more spare time on your hands that you did pre-COVID. Use some of that time to take a second look at your budget. Are there costs you can reduce or even eliminate? Is it time to look for that second job or start that side hustle? Can you save more?
Do what you can to help: Millions of Americans are struggling. If you have the financial means, try to make a difference. Get takeout from your favorite local restaurant or buy a book from your beloved indie bookstore. Donate to a charity that’s helping folks in need. The list of options is endless.
Find the full report here: https://www.comparecards.com/blog/cardholders-better-off-financially-than-expected-pandemic/