Advisors, beware—as if your job weren’t complicated enough in the midst of a crashing economy and a pandemic, you’ll have to keep an eye on your clients lest they panic and do something stupid in what may seem like the end of the economy.
It’s not as if people don’t normally make mistakes anyway, but trying to function under the sort of stress many people are feeling can cause all sorts of bad decisions—meaning that it might be a good time to brush up on your behavioral economics training to keep clients from financially self-destructing.
A financial wellness survey from KeyBank highlights some of the blunders people have admitted to making when dealing with their finances—before the coronavirus pandemic hit—and being forewarned about such ventures down the wrong road as stress weighs on their better judgment might help you turn clients back onto the right path before there’s too much damage done.
After all, says the report, “Even though 75 percent of Americans consider themselves financially savvy, more than half (54 percent) admit to making a financial faux pas in the past year.” Just think how much worse it might get as those stuck abroad after what was supposed to be a dream vacation struggle to get home at any cost, or people confined at home sit at their computers and shop, shop, shop for “emergency” supplies no matter the price tag.
Interestingly, one faux pas considered the second most severe financial mistake a person can make did not make the top 10 list of common mistakes by survey respondents—so either they know better or aren’t ’fessing up to it: mismanaging debt.
Below you’ll find 10 common mistakes they could make in the days ahead. Good luck!
10. Being afraid to check an account balance.
Eleven percent of people confess to the old head-in-the-sand ploy, but of course that doesn’t make the problem go away—it simply allows it to lie there and fester until maybe it’s unfixable.
9. Not making retirement contributions.
While 12 percent of Americans admit to being guilty of this, it’s actually considered to be the top financial mistake, since even 33 percent of respondents to the survey consider it to be the most severe financial error they could make.
8. Paying for unused subscription services.
Twelve percent of people admit to paying for stuff they apparently signed up for but then never had the inclination to actually use them—gym memberships, streaming services, subscriptions, “insurance” plans on purchases—and really ought to be paying more attention to where their money goes. Just cutting these things off could amount to a surprising amount of cash each year.
7. Not investing money.
Since interest rates now are barely above zero, anybody who simply stuck money (I’m talking to you, 15 percent of savers-not-investors) into a regular old savings account isn’t going to get much return for their savings efforts. Still, they may be too busy feeling relief for not having lost their shirts as in just the last several days the stock market gave up all its gains since the beginning of the Trump administration, so you might not want to be too hard on them.
6. Missing a credit card payment or carrying a balance on a credit card.
Either one is going to cost the 15 percent of people who confessed to doing so—whether in finance charges from month to month until that balance is gone, or in higher interest rates from now on for having missed a payment.
5. Spending a tax refund instead of saving it.
Fifteen percent of respondents confessed to frittering away the money they got back from the IRS. Considering that the deadline for tax returns has been extended this year, if they were counting on spending this one too, they may have a long wait ahead.
4. Spending beyond their means.
Seventeen percent of Americans confess to this, and it can get at least some of them into real trouble—particularly now, when many have no idea where their next paycheck is coming from—or when.
3. Not saving for an emergency.
Here’s a common problem—just not thinking far enough ahead about possible pitfalls to be able to set aside money “just in case.” We have one of the biggest “just in case” situations in history happening all around us, and the 18 percent who didn’t anticipate even a flat tire or broken water heater are liable to find themselves in an even larger world of hurt. Incidentally, the survey classes this as one of the top 3 financial mistakes, on a scale of 1 to 10.
2. Not sticking to a budget.
It can be tough to stay the course once you’ve broken down necessary expenses and discretionary spending, but 21 percent of Americans admit that they just haven’t managed to do it.
1. Impulse buying.
A sizeable portion of the U.S. population admits to having done this, with 25 percent confessing that they didn’t take the time or effort to weigh their options on something they bought.