Survey says … findings from Me & Money (2)

Last month I asked you (my public) to complete a survey about money — personal questions like how you much you earn, how much you spend, on what, whether you’re in debt, do you save or invest, does your financial situation trouble you and if so, how much?

My June 11 posting was the 1st instalment of the survey’s findings and revealed that on average most of owe more than 70% of what we earn. Not towards loans we might regard as investments – like mortgages, but against pure unsecured debt.

One of the things that struck me after attending a few sessions of Debtors Anonymous was that the people inside these programs didn’t seem any more compulsive about their spending than the average person, they were just more committed to living a saner, more balanced life and found that this depended on the support of like-minded souls rather than listening to financial advisors who can only skim the surface of the issues we have with money.

Question 38 of my survey asked to what degree respondents worried about debt along an 8 point scale that ran from “never” to “very anxious.”

Despite the huge amount of indebtedness amongst us, the stress levels of respondents is split 60/40.

The majority (i.e. the 60) are not concerned about debt:

  • 14% have no debt
  • 19% never worry about the debt they have
  • 23% are on top of it
  • 5% feel that the debt they have is “easy to sort out”

Of the 40% of us that are concerned only 7% of us are very anxious, another 16% are plain old “anxious” and a further 16% are vaguely worried.

It seems the high-stakes, debt-ridden financial collapse of 2008 hasn’t modified our tolerance for risk on any profound level.

In comparing our stressed vs non-stressed friends, some of the findings aren’t that surprising:

  • Women are more likely to be anxious about debt than men
  • People in their 30’s are more stressed than those in their 20’s or those over 4o
  • Those of us that pool our resources with a partner are more relaxed about debt than singletons or people in a money-separatist relationship

Two findings are surprising:

1. Our more anxious friends tend to be in full-time salaried employment with benefits and pensions (as opposed to part-timers or freelancers or those not in paid employment.)

2. Our most anxious friends earn substantially more than other worriers.

  • The average salary (quoted here in British £) of our anxious friends is below the national average at £23,000
  • Friends that are vaguely anxious earn an additional £5,000.
  • And our very anxious friends? Their salary average is £68,000 and when we remove low wage outliers, the average jumps up to £90,000.

Perhaps this isn’t so very surprising, perhaps the less money we have the less trouble we get ourselves into.

And on that note, are these numbers representative of the average incomes for everyone who completed the survey or just the worried minority? For the answer to that question stay tuned to the next instalment where I reveal more about what we earn.

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2 Comments

Filed under Money

2 responses to “Survey says … findings from Me & Money (2)

  1. Liz Athens

    I was struck by the result that you found that the folks who were more anxious were the ones with the steady paycheck coming in, as opposed to the ones who freelanced/part-timers. I wonder if their choice is indicative of thier resilience regarding this type of anxiety. I for one know that I would be in through-the-roof panic mode if I did not know how much money I would be getting each week. So, maybe the very job choice and style shows a form of coping when it comes to anxiety.

  2. nathaliehourihan

    Yes – I couldn’t fathom this finding at all since like you, I’d really struggle if I had to live without a regular paycheck. Your hypothesis is interesting; reckon I had too few people in my sample who were even anxious! and that therefore this odd finding may be unrepresentative & wouldn’t be what we found if I had larger samples of salaried vs freelance.

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