Levels of financial anxiety growing

5th September 2023

Almost a quarter of people feel anxious most (or all) of the time, and the levels of anxiety are growing – particularly among younger people. In many cases, it’s inextricably linked to financial problems according to analysis by Hargreaves Lansdown (HL).

The most recent edition of the HL Savings & Resilience Barometer found that people with high anxiety have an average of just £160 left after their living costs each month – around half as much as those with low anxiety (who have £300) with  28% of those with high anxiety suffer from debt issues – compared to 17% of those with low anxiety.

Sarah Coles, Head of Personal Finance, Hargreaves Lansdown said “Generation Stress risks being trapped in a vicious cycle of money problems and anxiety, as they feed one another in an endless downwards spiral.”

“ONS figures show that in 2020/21, 24% of people suffered from depression or anxiety. This is up from 20% in 2018/19 and 18% in 2015/16. It’s on the rise particularly among younger people: NHS figures show 26% of 17-19-year-olds have a probable mental disorder – up from 10% in 2017.”

“Financial problems can feed anxiety. A survey by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that the most common cause of anxiety was being unable to afford to pay bills (32%), while 20% were anxious about debt. When asked what would help alleviate their anxiety most effectively, the most common answer was financial security. Anxiety can also feed financial problems. It can sap motivation and make it difficult to deal with money. Some people will end up trying to spend to boost their mood – causing more money problems. And to make matters worse, anxiety can make it difficult to work, bringing a whole new level of issues.”

“As a result, the HL Savings & Resilience Barometer shows that those with high levels of anxiety have far lower financial resilience. It means they have less in savings – with around half as much as those with low levels of anxiety (£8,048 compared to £15,483). They also have around half as much money left at the end of the month on average (£160 compared to £300) and are far more likely to face debt issues of one kind of another (28% compared to 17%). More than one in five (21%) are in arrears on their debt repayments – compared to less than one in ten of those with low anxiety (8%).”

“Over time, anxiety also takes a toll on retirement savings. Only 28% of those with high anxiety are on track for a moderate income in retirement – compared to 43% of those with low anxiety.”