The Money Stress Tracker Survey: More Consumers Are More Stressed
DebtBusters has conducted their 2nd annual survey of consumers experiencing money stress.
The Money Stress Tracker survey asked 35 000 people (who are NOT in debt review) what was stressing them out and how they were dealing with it.
The results are quite revealing and also touch on what some debt stressed people think about debt review.
The Broad Strokes
Overall, it just seems that people are even more stressed about their debt and money problems than last year. There were percentage increases across the board for nearly every age group, gender and income category. Debt stress impacts on everyone.
When asked about their biggest stressors, consumers mostly seem concerned about (1) running out of money before the end of the month and (2) not having enough money to pay their existing debt.
There are some other lessor things that stress people out like dealing with loadshedding and concerns about the rising interest rates. Only a tiny amount worry about long term issues like saving towards retirement.
What Are People Doing About Their Debt?
When asked what they were doing about their debts the results were somewhat predicable but also revealing.
Most of the 35 000 respondents reported that they have simply cut back on spending compared to last year.
This has its knock on effect in the economy and if you run a small business this may not come as a surprise to you. People are just not spending as much as they used to. Instead, what they have is now being spent on servicing existing debt and trying to deal with higher costs of goods and services.
The research also showed that there has been a massive increase in consumers looking around for better paying jobs (employers take note). This has become a major part of the respondents lives and they are eager to find any job that has higher pay. Unlike in the past where job security was enough, now people are looking around to try find new work.
25% said that they are trying to be more fiscally responsible and are regularly budgeting each month. Budgeting is a highly effective way to tell your money where to go rather than watch it disappear. It is good to see such a high percentage but it could always be higher.
Predictably, around 10% of respondents said they are relying on more loans to make ends meet. While 15% are asking family for money and 10% are selling things they own just to get by.
DebtBusters then asked consumers who had obvious debt stress and needed help why they have not yet done anything about their situation?
The responses are revealing:
25% described themselves as unsure and stuck, not knowing what to do or unable to make any changes;
25% said they are taking time to consider their options (such as debt review or financial coaching);
20% said that they do not know who they can trust to get help (especially older respondents)
20% said that they are too embarrassed to ask for help (especially younger respondents).
When those respondents with heavy, unsustainable debt were asked specifically about debt review suddenly nearly 60% (particularly older respondents) said they do not need any help.
27% (particularly younger respondents) said they did not know a lot about debt review and 14% said they were currently thinking about it.
These may have related in part to the 25% who previously said that they were taking time to consider their options.
People Are Stressed
DebtBuster’s Money Stress Tracker survey is in its second year now and as time goes by there will be more and more comparative data to track how consumers are reacting to their debt stress each year.
One thing is immediately clear however: debt stress is incredibly common and it definitely seems to be getting worse.