COVID-19 has pushed stress levels among adults in the United States to an all-time high, according to a recent poll for the American Psychological Association. (Photo: heart.org)
October 9, 2020
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Even before the pandemic, nearly 40% of people in the U.S. said they wouldn’t be able to cover a surprise $400 expense, and the health crisis has only made things worse.
A survey by Money Magazine and Morning Consult shows 11% of Americans report being “very stressed” about credit card debt, with nearly 30% saying their reliance on credit cards for food and self-care items has increased since the pandemic began.
Bradley Klontz, author of Psychology of Money: Financial Health Revelations for Clinicians, is a financial therapist and certified financial planner. He described COVID-19 as “a psychological earthquake” that has induced stress at unprecedented levels.
“Money is the number one source of stress in the lives of Americans, even when times are great,” Klontz explained. “So, we’re the wealthiest country in the world, yet this is the biggest source of stress in our lives as Americans.”
In New Mexico, more than 100,000 people lost jobs in April in the financial fallout from the pandemic, but economists say roughly a third of those jobs have come back.
At the same time, state economists told lawmakers this week they believe many New Mexicans have left the labor force entirely.
Klontz said job loss, loss of a loved one, and caregiving responsibilities combined with financial difficulties have made the pandemic a life-changing event for many people.
He encouraged anyone who’s struggling to track spending, cut all unnecessary expenses, locate resources for emergency food if necessary, and find someone to talk to if stress levels are causing depression.
“The problem is, for most Americans, your finances won’t actually kill you,” Klontz commented. “However, your financial stress can kill you. It’s really, really dangerous to be living in that level of financial stress.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a guide to coping with stress related to COVID-19 on its website, cdc.gov.