According to Fidelity Investments' annual New Years financial dissolution study released Tuesday, 38% of respondents say they will be in "survival mode" in 2021.
In survival mode, you have to “focus on everyday life when I'm trying to get myself and / or my family through the next year,” according to the survey of more than 3,000 people.
The older the participant, the more likely they are to feel like this: 43% of baby boomers (56-74 years old) said they will enter 2021 in survival mode, while 34% of millennial-age participants (24-39 years) said the same thing.
"Unfortunately, our ability to see the bigger picture is severely limited in combat or flight modes," said Andy Baxley, a Chicago-based financial planner at The Planning Center.
"This can lead to decisions that make sense in the heat of the moment but have the potential to cause significant harm in the long run," he added.
Exiting "survival mode" begins by trying to imagine what your life will be like a year from now and what changes will be needed to feel more secure, Baxley said.
“Next, I encourage people to think about something that is relatively easy to accomplish and that has a significant impact on moving them in the right direction. Sometimes a small step is enough to build momentum, ”he said.
Who is financially worse off?
Overall, 29% of respondents said they were in poorer financial shape in 2021. That's an increase of 19% of respondents who told the recurring survey that they had worse money as of 2020.
Almost (23%) of respondents said they had either lost a job or a household income, and 18% said they had to make an unplanned pitch for money from their friends and family.
Overall, more than two-thirds of Americans surveyed had a financial setback for 2020, Fidelity said, and 34% said their biggest financial concern was increasing the cost of food and other necessities.
The results add to the stack of surveys and statistics showing that nine months after the COVID-19 pandemic, a speedy recovery is difficult to achieve for many.
For example, a quarter of people felt in more severe financial distress in September than they did in March, according to a study by the Urban Institute that was published more than a month ago.
See also:Opinion: The K-shaped economic recovery: For half of America the economy is still dire
The deterioration was more pronounced in minority households. More than a third of the Latino participants said they were in worse condition.
Almost 30% of black households reported relapsing. More than 40% of people below the poverty line before the pandemic said the situation was getting worse, researchers at the Urban Institute found.
However, the type of scraping-by-survival mode discussed in the Fidelity survey is something that predates the pandemic, according to the Urban Institute's findings.
"Even before the pandemic, many people were struggling to meet basic necessities such as food, rent and health care," said Michael Karpman, senior research associate at Urban and lead author of the report.
"But the recession has hit the hardest of the people who already had financial problems," he added.
See also: The 245,000 new jobs added last month are the lowest since the US recovery began in May
People may go into "survival mode" because they tune into what's around the corner – or actually what's not around the corner right now.
Fidelity's results come when many key financial guarantees, collection breaks, and safeguards are dropped by the end of the month if no action by Congress is taken.
The Department of Education on Friday extended a freeze on student loan collection payments to January 31. However, a moratorium on the evacuation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently expiring on December 31st.
A $ 908 billion aid package currently under review on Capitol Hill would, among other things, expand evacuation protection.
"Sometimes it's just this forward movement that brings you closer."
What should a person with financial shortage do to get to a better place?
Meredith Stoddard, vice president of life events at Fidelity, said it was okay to take small steps such as: For example, reaching out to a friend about a job prospect, updating a resume, or putting a personal budget on paper.
"Sometimes it's just this forward movement that brings you closer," she said. While it "is easy to get into worst-case thinking," Stoddard said it was better not to be overwhelmed by emotions.
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Try a 50/15/5 breakdown of your income, explained Stoddard.
There's 50% for necessities like mortgages and bills, 15% for retirement plans (in a 401 (k) business game), and 5% for short-term savings like an emergency fund. The remaining 30% is accounted for by tax charges, charitable donations and childcare.
But the directive is just "ambitious" and should generate more pressure, said Stoddard. "If you've just lost your job or cut your salary, the rules of thumb are general guidelines."