7 Ways COVID-19 Changed How We Think About Money


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The COVID-19 pandemic caused all of us to pause and reflect on many aspects of life. That includes the money in our wallets.

Three-quarters of Americans — 76% — say the pandemic has motivated them to re-examine their financial situation, according to a recent survey from Betterment, a financial advisory company.

In particular, survey respondents said their thinking about finances changed in seven ways compared with how they thought prior to the pandemic. Those ways are:

  • Prioritizing building a retirement fund more now than pre-pandemic (cited by 68% of respondents)
  • Prioritizing paying off credit card debt more now than pre-pandemic (59%)
  • No longer believing a 401(k) plan will be enough to sustain a retirement (49%)
  • Believing an emergency fund is important after not previously thinking that way (46%)
  • Prioritizing living in an inexpensive city/state more now than pre-pandemic (44%)
  • Aspiring to retire earlier more now than pre-pandemic (42%)
  • Prioritizing paying off student debt more now than pre-pandemic (35%)

Survey respondents also reported that their spending habits have changed since the start of the pandemic. While 37% said they are spending more, 30% are spending less and 33% said their spending is unchanged.

Betterment surveyed 1,000 adults who work full time for the survey. The company notes that survey respondents are still hurting from financial setbacks related to the pandemic and that many have had to tap their emergency funds.

In addition, survey respondents said they want more support from their employers to keep them from looking elsewhere for work. According to Betterment:

“Financial benefits are now their top priority above in-office perks and even vacation time, and employees are looking for particular help with retirement planning and student loan debt.”

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