Stress

2 in 5 people find discussing finances leads to stress

2 in 5 people find discussing finances leads to stress

People are finding that discussing their finances makes their heart race or leads to stress

MoneySuperMarket asked Brits to rate a range of financial events on a stress scale of 1 to 10, revealing even day to day matters are causing anxiety.

After discovering that two in five Brits (39%) find discussing their finances can make their heart race or make them feel stressed. MoneySuperMarket today releases a new money stress test to help Brits get money calm in 2021. I honestly don’t know how the other 3 in 5 are coping!


With 2020 being one of the toughest years on record for Brits’ personal finances. 2021 isn’t faring much better! The UK’s leading price comparison website undertook research to explore our relationship with money and how a range of financial events – from the major to mundane – can cause us stress.

Working with Professor Mark Fenton-O’Creevy of The Open University – a leading expert in the psychology of money – MoneySuperMarket wants to help Brits identify the causes of their money worries and provide them with practical tips to combat and address them. 

To take MoneySuperMarket’s Money Stress Test, click here. If you’re experiencing significant anxiety about your finances, you should also visit the Money Advice Service and StepChange – both of which can provide you with advice about how to deal with debt.

MoneySuperMarket Findings:

  • Being unemployed but needing to work to meet bills (8.1) home repossessions (7.7) and evictions (7.7) were rated as the most stressful financial life events1
  • 39% can find discussing finances makes their heart race or makes them feel stressed; 52% can find thinking about finances can make them feel anxious
  • Nearly a third (29%) of Brits constantly checked their bank apps out of anxiety and concerns about job security; nearly a quarter (23%) worried about having a lack of savings for emergencies
  • 21% of Brits rated the pressure to afford things for their kids as 9 or 10 on stress scale; half of Brits (50%) gave seeing peers earning/spending more than them scores of more than ‘5’ on the stress scale
  • MoneySuperMarket releases new Money Stress Test to help Brits understand how money calm they are and, if they’re experiencing worries, shows them how to get back on track.
money mondays

How stressful Brits rate certain financial events

The research asked 2,000 Brits how stressful they imagined a range of 36 different financial life events would be if they were to occur to them, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = not stressful at all and 10 = extremely stressful).

Being unemployed but needing to work to meet bills was the most stressful money event, with a mean score of 8.1 out of 10. This was followed by having a house repossessed due to failure to meet mortgage payments (7.7) and being evicted due to failure to meet rent payments (7.7).

Most stressful events for someone experiencing themMean score
1Being unemployed but needing to work to meet bills 8.1
2Having a house repossessed due to failure to meet mortgage payments7.7 
3Being evicted due to failure to meet rent payments7.7 
4Unable to pay a rent or mortgage payment when it was due7.5 
5Experiencing a major fall in income (e.g. through being made unemployed)7.4 
6Having possessions seized due to a court order relating to a debt7.3 
7Having a large unplanned bill to meet7.3 
8Being made bankrupt, or entering into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, or similar, due to debts you could not pay7.3 
9Unable to meet payments on a debt7.2 
10Regularly worrying about your job security7.1 

21% of Brits rated the pressure to afford things for kids such as days out, school trips and Christmas presents, 9 or 10 out 10 on the stress scale.  Half of Brits (50%) gave seeing their peers earning and spending more than them a score of more than 5 out of 10; similarly, 52% of Brits gave worrying about the cost of dining out with friends a score of more than 5 out of 10.

EMERGENCY FUND

People were asked what financial events they had experienced in the last year

Brits were also asked which of the 36 financial life events they had personally experienced within the last year. In addition to nearly a third (29%) constantly checking their banking app, almost a third had regularly worried about their job security (29%) and nearly a quarter reported anxiety about not having enough savings for an emergency fund (23%).          

20% of Brits had worried about paying for things like Christmas and children’s birthdays, while nearly one in five Brits (18%) admitted to not looking at bills, bank or credit card statements.

Most stressful events experienced by Brits in the past year
1Constantly checking your banking app out of anxiety as a result of your financial situation29%
2Regularly worrying about your job security29%
3Having no savings in case of emergencies (e.g. repairing a boiler / car)23%
4Having a large unplanned bill to meet20%
5Worrying about paying for things like Christmas, children’s birthdays20%
6Going on a day out and worrying about the additional expenditure / the cost of eating out19%
7Failing to pay off a credit card in full each month18%
8Not looking at bills, bank statements or credit card statements because of how they make you feel18%
9Regularly spending more than your income17%
10Not being able to afford a holiday when everyone else is going away17%
Anxiety

Attitudes towards money

The research finds that over half of Brits (52%) responded ‘very true’ or ‘somewhat true’ to the statement that thinking about their finances can make them feel anxious. Similarly over a third (39%) responded ‘very true’ or ‘somewhat true’ to the  statement that discussing their finances can make their heart race or make them feel stressed; a further 30% replied in the same manner to the statement that they find opening their bank statements unpleasant.

How your attitude towards money impacts your emotional experience of financial events

The research also looked at whether an individual’s attitudes towards money can impact their emotional experience of financial events. To do this, respondents were asked how they viewed money, using four different types of money relationships: money as love and generosity; money as freedom; money as power and status; and money as security. The findings revealed that those who see money as security were associated with lower scores on the index and more likely to have lower money anxiety, while the other three attitudes are associated with higher money anxiety levels.

If you know your triggers and your relationship with money, you can identify the areas you can make improvements.

Sally Francis-Miles

Sally Francis-Miles, money spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “Money worries often cause anxiety and stress, especially in the current pandemic where entire industries have been forced to shut. There is however rarely a financial situation that is beyond help either through tweaks to cut costs, government support or from debt help charities.

“The key is regaining control of something you may feel is anything but. And this is the reason we created our money stress tool. If you know your triggers and your relationship with money, you can identify the areas you can make improvements.

“The starting point is knowing what your incomings and outgoings are. If your outgoings are more than you’ve got coming in, or very close to it, consider ways you can make pain-free savings, such as switching household bills including your energy and broadband or transferring expensive credit card debts to 0% balance transfer deals (typically for a one-off fee, this is subject to passing a credit check too).”

Reducing financial stress and anxiety is important because it can take a toll on your mental health. 

Professor Mark Fenton-O’Creevy of The Open University, commented: “Our research shows many of us are more worried about our finances than we might expect – something that has been made worse by the extraordinary times we’re living through.  Reducing financial stress and anxiety is important because it can take a toll on your mental health.  Regaining a sense of control starts with recognizing the problem and understanding the steps you need to take to get back on track.

“Knowing where to get help, planning and budgeting, and understanding how to cut costs are all important. Just as important, though, is to understand your own financial habits and attitudes and where they might get in the way of reducing financial stress.

“Our survey and previous research show that people who see money as a source of security and a protection from unexpected events are less likely to get into financial difficulties than those who see it as about power and status, as a source of freedom, or as a way of expressing love.”