Despite a thriving U.S. economy, marked by robust GDP growth, low unemployment rates, and decreasing inflation, many Americans find themselves feeling more stressed as the year comes to a close, according to a recent survey conducted by Allianz Life.
Rising Stress Levels
The survey reveals that a significant 40% of respondents feel more stressed as 2023 draws to a close compared to the previous year. This represents a noticeable increase from the 34% reported at the end of 2022.
It appears that the effects of the inflationary spike over the past couple of years are causing significant worry among Americans. As many as 61% of survey participants highlight the rising costs of day-to-day expenses as a major financial stressor, especially when compared to the previous year. Moreover, of the 29% of respondents who reported an increase in their pay, a staggering 73% claim that their salary hike is not keeping up with inflation.
Kelly LaVigne, Vice President of Consumer Insights at Allianz Life, emphasizes the importance of developing a long-term financial plan to combat the implications of the escalating cost of living. She asserts, “While inflation has slowed down from its recent peaks, it is crucial for Americans to be prepared and take proactive steps to mitigate its impact.”
Apart from inflation concerns, survey respondents also highlight other stress-inducing factors. These include inadequate income or retirement funds, with 44% expressing anxiety over their financial situation in this regard. Furthermore, 34% of participants report feeling burdened by excessive debt.
As the year draws to a close, it is clear that despite the positive economic indicators, Americans are grappling with increasing stress levels. It is essential for individuals to prioritize their financial well-being by formulating comprehensive and adaptive strategies to navigate the challenges posed by the current economic landscape.
Year-End Stress Levels Varied Among Age Groups
The level of stress experienced by individuals at the end of the year compared to the previous year differed across different age groups. According to a recent survey, 46% of Gen Xers reported feeling more stressed, while 39% of millennials and only 33% of baby boomers shared the same sentiment.
Increasing Optimism for Positive Personal Changes in the New Year
Despite the varying levels of stress, a greater number of Americans are hopeful about making positive personal changes in the upcoming year. The survey revealed that 48% of respondents are likely to make and stick to resolutions related to better money management or increased savings. This percentage has increased from 43% last year and 33% in 2021.
Millennials Lead the Way in Confidence
Among the different age groups, millennials appear to be the most confident about following through with their resolutions. A significant 59% of millennials expressed their likelihood of making and maintaining such resolutions, compared to 39% of Gen Xers and 30% of baby boomers.
Focus Areas for Financial Improvement in 2024
When asked about how they plan to improve their financial situations in the coming year, respondents provided several insights. Approximately 17% of participants mentioned building up an emergency fund as a priority, while another 16% emphasized paying down credit card debt. Additionally, 17% expressed the intention to increase their retirement savings.
The survey was conducted by Allianz Life in November through an online platform. The sample consisted of 1,005 respondents aged 18 or older, representative of the national population.
Taking Action for Long-Term Financial Strategy
According to LaVigne from Allianz Life, many individuals recognize the need for improving their long-term financial strategies but often require guidance to take action. One of the initial steps involves creating a written financial strategy that serves as a roadmap to achieve goals such as retirement planning and risk mitigation.