If you’re stressed about your finances, you’re not alone. The annual Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report (WBR) revealed some alarming and telling statistics in 2017 regarding how the average American handles their finances. It may not surprise you that people worry about money, but some of these other facts might.
More People are Stressed About Finances Than Ever Before
At least, more people are admitting to experiencing financial stress than ever before. According to the recent survey, 56% of employees report being stressed about finances. You can only imagine where that percentage lies among unemployed or underemployed Americans. It’s no wonder too that there’s so much financial anxiety going around, what with 69% of Americans having less than $1,000 in the bank. Add to that mounting student loans and too much credit card debt, and it’s easy to see where this stress might be coming from.
Women Worry More About Future Financial Problems
In general, despite the rampant financial stress, most employees report optimistic feelings about the future. The reasons for this are varied, with 51% citing living within their means as their primary reason to feel good about prospects, 40% citing good health, and 45% citing having a well-paying job.
When we look more closely at these optimistic employees, we notice that women are far less optimistic than men. 61% of women worry about having to work longer than they planned before retirement. This is notably higher than the 51% of men who worry about the same thing. In fact, only 29% of women reported feeling optimistic about the future at all.
Financial Stress is Affecting Job Performance
According to the report, 53% of employees confess that their financial stress is interfering with their job performance. This is especially the case with Millennials, 67% of whom admitted to less productivity and an inability to focus at work. Only 32% of baby boomers said the same.
Millennials were also most likely to spend significant amounts of time at work dealing with financial matters. Of course, they weren’t the only ones. Taking time out of work to deal with financial issues showed to be prevalent problem. 43% of employees across the board admitted to spending at least three hours on them. Another 21% admitted to spending five or more hours negotiating bills or trying to reduce credit card debt.
People Only Plan for the Future When Their Boss Tells Them To
Despite spending so much work time on financial matters, most employees seem woefully ill-equipped for the future. Whatever they are doing with that time, they are not setting up plans to save money period, let alone save for retirement. According to the report, a third of employees have yet to start saving for retirement at all. 67% of those that do say that their employer was instrumental in making that happen by providing easy access to a retirement savings plan.
It really does seem like the onus is on employers to make employees be more responsible with their money. Half of respondents said they would become more active in managing their finances if they had a regular financial review or some type of individualized financial plan. They just don’t seem interested in doing any of this on their own. And that’s not to say that they don’t know it’s important. 64% of employees are worried about running out of money during retirement.
People are Not Prepared to Handle Major Events (Unexpected or Otherwise)
Remember when we said that 69% of Americans have less than a $1,000 in the bank? How far do you think $1,000 will get you in a financial crisis? Probably not very far. The report revealed that an alarming number of employees were flat unprepared for the financial consequences of major life events. 29% were clearly unprepared. 47% thought they would be but underestimated the financial impact of certain events. The events considered in the survey included such life changing situations as buying a home, losing a job, or dealing with a serious illness.
The report seems to be telling us to ask our employers for more resources. In truth, maybe we could be spending some of that time we waste stressing over paying off debts and bills on building our own budgeting plan and motivating ourselves to look forward.