Stressing over money is neither new nor confined to a particular age group, but it seems to have a particular hold on younger people, according to a new survey from digital banking platform Laurel Road.
More than six in 10 (62%) Gen Z and millennial Americans are “constantly stressed” about money, according to the survey, and 70% feel like they’ve fallen way behind others their age in terms of financial stability. The survey of 2,000 Gen Zers and millennials was conducted by OnePoll on Laurel Road’s behalf and released on Wednesday.
Financial stress is triggered by just about anything to do with money. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents get anxious when checking their bank accounts, and three-quarters are anxious about pending charges they might have rung up over the weekend. Seven in 10 also stress over checking their credit card statements.
Gen Zers and millennials have plenty of experience with financial anxiety, having either grown up or reached adulthood during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. That anxiety has been cranked up another notch by the COVID-19 pandemic, which rocked the global economy.
“Financial stress and anxiety are incredibly common feelings among Gen Z and millennials, many of whom are facing new challenges in light of the pandemic, and we’re seeing firsthand that this group is interested in taking the steps needed to alleviate stressors and strengthen their finances and mental health,” Alyssa Schaefer, Laurel Road’s general manager and chief experience officer, said in a press release.
The survey found that these are the top five financial stressors for Americans under 40:
- Paying monthly bills: 28%
- Trying not to overspend: 27%
- Saving for a home: 27%
- Making a monthly budget and sticking to it: 26%
- Putting money into a savings account: 26%
To deal with these and other stressors, many young people have put a priority on “mental wealth,” Schaefer said. This typically involves increasing savings accounts, creating a financial plan and building financial wellness. More than four in 10 respondents (44%) said they plan to focus on saving more money each month, while 36% said they plan to set aside their pandemic savings for the future.
Nearly half (48%) of respondents said they hope to gain a better understanding of investment options as a way to help get their finances under control. Other steps they plan to take include creating roadmaps to reduce debt (41%) and developing a student loan repayment plan (34%).
Paying down student loans holds particular importance for Gen Z and millennial Americans because so many have piled up student debt. One in five respondents with federal student loans — more than 700 — said they feel anxious about the end of the federal government’s student loan forbearance program, which was implemented to help borrowers weather the pandemic. As GOBankingRates previously reported, that program is scheduled to end on Jan. 30, 2022.
“As the student loan forbearance period ending fast approaches, it’s important that Gen Z and millennials know what options are available to them to retain and build their future savings,” Schaefer said. “There are many options available to chip away at debt by making small monthly payments or refinancing student loans to secure a lower interest rate.”
Other steps Gen Zers and millennials can take to ease their financial stress include the following, as outlined by GOBankingRates:
- Create a budget you can stick to
- Don’t add more debt if you are already paying down debt
- Get a side hustle
- Open a savings account and contribute to it regularly
- Build an emergency fund of at least three months’ worth of expenses
- Contribute a full match to your 401(k) account
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