2 in 3 adults avoid social events — because they’re embarrassed about their financial struggles

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New survey reveals that the average American believes they’d need an income of $86,000 to feel comfortable financially.

The average respondent believes it will take them 38 years to pay off their credit card debt.

NEW YORK — Two-thirds of Americans are trying to keep their financial struggles a secret. A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults found that 66 percent have avoided social events because they’ve felt embarrassed or uncomfortable about their financial situation.

Some respondents say they’ve steered clear of birthday parties (33%), weddings (32%), happy hours (31%), and networking events (31%). Recent increases in gas prices and inflation have left 56 percent feeling “extremely” or “noticeably” more stressed.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Beyond Finance for Mental Health Awareness Month, the survey also found that 67 percent engage in “stress shopping” when feeling financially overwhelmed and end up buying things they don’t need.

People tend to buy more collectibles they don’t really like (51%), fast food (51%), expensive clothing and accessories (50%), and even duplicates of items they already own (48%). Three in five (61%) feel like they’re not earning enough money to live their life to the fullest. Those with annual household incomes under $30,000 were the most likely to say so (78%), as well as Northeasterners compared to respondents from other regions (75%).

On average, people think they’d need to earn a minimum of $86,000 to never feel stressed about their finances again. However, according to the poll, earning an additional $1,331,515 per year could also lead to additional stress for respondents.

Regardless of how much money they earn, 57 percent say their finances will always make them feel stressed. Turning to others for help may not always be an option, as six in 10 (61%) are uncomfortable talking about their financial stress with other people.

Fifty-eight percent feel alone in experiencing financial stress and 51 percent are ashamed of their financial difficulties. When asked who they’ve ever talked to about their financial stress, 39 percent noted a partner or spouse, more so than a doctor or therapist (29%).

Decades of debt on the calendar?

Some people react to feeling stressed or overwhelmed by their finances by blaming themselves for “not doing enough” (35%) and avoiding looking at or paying their bills (35%).

“Our results show that people report feeling just as stressed about their finances now as they did before the pandemic — 61 percent of people today versus 60 percent in 2019 — and not everyone may be fully aware of how overwhelmed they really feel,” says a spokesperson for Beyond Finance in a statement.

Eight in 10 report having some form of debt. Forty-two percent add their debt has taken a toll on their self-esteem, with others noting their job productivity (38%) and physical health (38%) have also been adversely affected.

Those polled believe that on average, it’ll take them a whopping 38 years to pay off their credit card debt.

“Symptoms of acute financial stress, such as finance-related avoidant behaviors, feelings of isolation, and guilt can affect anyone, regardless of how much money they earn,” the spokesperson adds. “There are options available to help diminish or refinance debt and give people greater peace of mind.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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  1. Ya when u pay the minimum amount due on cc’s monthly, it will take 700 years to pay it off.

  2. When watching a young person fill their large SUV or truck on credit, I want to ask them, “Where did you spend your retirement?” The appropriate answer is, “here”.

    Credit is very convenient. If I cannot pay cash, I probably cannot afford it.

    1. I *could* pay cash for everything, but I prefer to earn points on my credit card. I pay it off every few days so never pay a cent of interest.

  3. The extended cold weather impacts my heating expense /budget as does the rising cost of gasoline..that has NOTHING to do with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Gas companies are enjoying recordprofits. The US could be self sufficient. The elected Congressional representatives ARE NOT REPRESENTING ME as they were hired to do. Instead they seem to incorrectly be acting as though they have an all-knowing parental view of how they should be spending my tax dollars

  4. Hard to believe one’s financial status would be revealed at a wedding, birthday party, or happy hour. I would expect that people are avoiding these and other ‘super spreader’ events to avoid being exposed to some variant of some virus. If people are striving to avoid exposing a status, it’s probably vaccination status. For me, personally, COVID et al are just an excuse to avoid things I do not like anyway.

    1. If one doesn’t have gas money to put in the car… Or doesn’t have a car at all…Or the wedding is in a different state, or country. Glad your experiences don’t even allow you to stretch your imagination to go there.

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