New Year personal finances still weigh heavily on people’s minds, study shows

New research shows that it might not be such a happy New Year for Irish consumers when it comes to their finances in 2018. Many admit to feeling less than optimistic about the year ahead, with money concerns and financial woes weighing heavily on people’s minds

The findings show that 95 per cent of consumers admit to worrying about their finances with 2018 set to bringmore of the same concerns. Three-quarters of consumers (72 per cent ) feel they’ll either be in the same financial position, or worse off, in 2018 than they were in 2017.

Almost half of consumers (47 per cent ) are concerned they won’t be able to save anything in 2018 after paying for essentials and 43 per cent worry they would not make ends meet if unexpected expenses came up.

Over half (54 per cent ) of those who worry about their finances feel it impacts on their mental health, while 45 per cent say it negatively affects their physical health.

New research published today by independent price comparison and switching service, Switcher.ie, reveals the extent of consumers’ financial concerns for 2018. Rather than looking forward to a happy New Year, money worries look set to remain high on the agenda with little to suggest that consumers’ concerns will be alleviated anytime soon.

Already, a huge 95 per cent of Irish adults admit to worrying about their finances. One in five (18 per cent ) say they are always worried, while a quarter (25 per cent ) say they often are - just five per cent say they never have any financial concerns[1].

As we head into 2018, this looks set to continue. Despite talk of a recovery and changes to income tax and USC in Budget 2018, less than three in ten (28 per cent ) feel they will be better off than they were in 2017. In contrast, over a quarter (26 per cent ) believe they will be worse off, with almost half (46 per cent ) expecting their financial position to remain unchanged.

Sadly, only 29 per cent of consumers are confident that in 2018 they will be able to meet all of their day-to-day expenses (such as rent or mortgage, energy costs, telecoms and groceries ), as well as setting savings aside and being able to cover unexpected expenses. Others (27 per cent ) expect to be able to meet their day-to-day expenses but won’t be able to save, while a third (33 per cent ) say they will manage to meet their day-to-day expenses, but will struggle to do so.

Worryingly, one in ten (nine per cent ) say they’ll have to borrow money if unexpected expenses crop up in 2018[3]. However, the fear is that the number resorting to credit could end up being even higher, with almost half (47 per cent ) admitting that saving anything at all after paying for essentials could be a problem, and a similar number (43 per cent ) worried they wouldn’t make ends meet if they were hit with an unexpected expense.

The concerns that consumers have about their financial situation in 2018 are varied - one-fifth (21 per cent ) are worried they will not be able to afford essential bills like energy, broadband or groceries, and the same amount (20 per cent ) are concerned they could struggle to pay their rent or mortgage. Other fears include not being able to afford to go on holiday (23 per cent ), not getting a pay rise (20 per cent ), or losing their job (14 per cent ).

And many people feel that these financial worries could have an impact on their health, relationships and career. Over half (54 per cent ) say these fears impact on their mental health, with 45 per cent concerned about the effect on their physical health. Over four in ten (43 per cent ) say their financial worries impact negatively on their relationships with their partner or family, while 38 per cent say thinking about these things distracts them from their job or study. The same number (38 per cent ) say worrying keeps them awake at night.

Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “The scale and extent of Irish consumers’ financial woes as we come into 2018 is huge. We’re hearing a lot of talk about the recovery, but the reality seems to be that this hasn’t hit consumers’ pockets just yet.

“It’s likely many of us could be emerging from the Christmas season with a financial hangover that feels hard to shake. Getting a handle on your finances may seem like a really big job, but in fact, making several small changes could start to ease the pressure and make you feel more in control.

“Get started by drawing up a monthly budget, taking some energy-saving measures around the home, and ensuring you’re not paying more than you need to for household essentials like broadband, energy and your mobile phone. This can make a huge difference. Not only will addressing these issues save you money, reducing your stress about these things could also have a positive impact on your health, happiness and relationships in the year ahead.”

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