- 55% of people don’t feel comfortable opening up when they have worries about their financial situation
- Despite 48% admitting they have regularly worried about money recentlyi
- Top reasons for bottling up money worries include shame, not wanting to burden others and claiming they were brought up to avoid talking about money
A new study into the financial behaviours of UK adults, released today by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) as part of Talk Money Week, shows that 29 millionii adults don’t feel comfortable talking about money, despite 48% admitting they have regularly worried about finances recently.
The research, which surveyed over 5,200 people across the UK, suggests that money is currently a daily worry for nine million UK adults (16%), and nearly half the adult population (48%) say they have worried about money once a week or more in the last month. Over half (60%) of those responding to MaPS’ research said the pandemic had added to their financial concerns.
Despite this concerning picture, more than half (52%) of adults still struggle to talk openly to someone about their financial situation. When asked what action they’d taken as a result of the pandemic, just one in 10 (11%) reported opening up to family or friends about their own financial situation.
The long-held stereotype of avoiding money conversations because it could be impolite was not the main reason that people do not talk about their finances. The most common reasons for avoiding talking about money are shame, embarrassment and not wanting to burden others.
|Most common reasons why UK adults avoid talking about their money situation|
|1. Shame / embarrassment (18%)|
|2. Not wanting to burden others (18%)|
|3. It’s not how they were brought up (15%)|
|4. It causes stress or anxiety (15%)|
|5. Thinking they should be more successful than they are (13%)|
Around 71% of young adults (18-24-year-olds) worried about money once a week or more in the previous month, yet they are also the most likely generation to be uncomfortable talking about it with family and friends. This is a higher proportion of young people compared to older generations, in line with ONS data which shows that an increasing number of young people in the UK are reporting that they are finding it difficult to get by financially due to the impacts of the pandemic.iii
Despite their worries, 37% of young people feel uncomfortable talking to their loved ones about their money situation. Nealy half (46%) wish they felt more comfortable opening up but report feelings of shame as their biggest reason for avoiding it (26%).
Those in the UK who identify as BAME are also more likely to be worried about their current money situation with nearly half (45%) admitting they are worried in comparison to the national average of one in three (35%). 40% wish they could be more comfortable talking to friends and family about money.
Sir Hector Sants, Chair of the Money and Pensions Service, says:
“This year has shone a spotlight on the fundamental links between physical, mental and financial wellbeing. Yet shame and embarrassment about our financial circumstances continues to be a deep-seated barrier keeping many people from openly discussing their concerns and fears about their money. A good start is for everyone to recognise this issue and ensure there are safe spaces for people to open up about their concerns.
“Talk Money Week encourages us all to take that first step by starting a conversation about money with friends, families, colleagues and customers. There is a wealth of expert support and guidance that is available covering all money and pension related topics.”
Sarah Porretta, Strategy and Insights Director, at Money and Pensions Service comments:
“The pandemic continues to make the world an uncertain place. It is clear that the impact on people’s financial wellbeing is acute, particularly for young adults and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
“We know that talking about money – and money worries in particular – can be hard and there are lots of reasons why people find it difficult to reach out and ask for help, and feelings of shame about money can be more common in certain communities. It’s essential to remember that you are not alone; many others are in the same boat or have experienced money worries in the past themselves. Speaking to someone, whether a family member, friend or professional, can help break the money-worry cycle, which can occur when people are concerned about having money conversations, often feeling worse for bottling up their money worries.
“The effects of Covid-19 have made it even more important to know how to deal with a change in your financial situation, which is why we’re reminding everyone to start a conversation this Talk Money Week and to use free online tools – like the Money Navigator on the Money Advice Service website – to start to tackle any money troubles and find a way forward.”
Talk Money Week is a national campaign which aims to increase people’s sense of financial wellbeing by encouraging them to open-up about personal finance – from pocket money to pensions. Having a conversation with someone – a friend, family member or expert – is a valuable first step in improving financial wellbeing.
Four ways to help people talk more openly and make the most of free, impartial tools and resources available to them this Talk Money Week include:
- Money Navigator – a tool which helps people navigate their finances in the wake of Covid-19 to find a way forward, get money support now and help avoid future debt problems
- Checking the Money Advice Service’s page on money problems and poor mental health which offers guidance on everything around handling creditors, as well as available benefits if you have poor mental health
- Joining the Money and Pensions Service’s private Facebook groups where peer support is available for problems including coronavirus, debt and budgeting and savings
- Using MaPS’ talking money guides to help start conversations about money with everyone from partners, to friends, to children
To help people struggling with their finances – or with money worries, MaPS recommends the following four steps:
- Do an emergency budget. The Money and Pensions Service’s free budget planning tool can be used to break down finances to help identify where cuts can be made.
- Be careful about borrowing. If you have emergency savings, this is the time to use them. If you do need to borrow, try friends and family first. Be wary of high-cost credit and make sure you understand how much you could end up repaying in total. The Money Advice Service can take you through some of the other options for borrowing money.
- Check what support you could be eligible for. It’s vital that anyone facing difficulties checks what support could be available to them, such as Universal Credit or other benefits. Due to the ongoing financial impact of the pandemic the Financial Conduct Authority is developing proposals which will require lenders to provide further support measures if you’re in financial difficulty. Further support is available through the Money Navigator tool on the Money Advice Service website.
- Open up to someone in a way that’s right for you. It can feel overwhelming to tackle money problems alone and by not opening up, you might risk damaging relationships or your own, emotional wellbeing. Opening up to a friend or family member can help you feel emotional relief and help get moral support, while speaking to an impartial professional can offer you the guidance you might need – and the research suggests that 28% of people said they would feel more comfortable confiding concerns to a professional. See the Money Advice Service’s guide to talking about money if you’re unsure of how to approach it.
- Get free debt advice. Anyone who is facing serious financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic should get free debt advice. MaPS has secured an additional £38 million in funding from HMT to increase the availability of debt advice in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Use the debt advice locator tool on the Money Advice Service website to find free debt advice.
For more information on Talk Money Week visit: www.maps.org.uk/talk-money-week
For media enquiries contact:
- MaPS Press Office 020 8132 5284 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mia Cochrane, senior press officer 020 8132 4937 / email@example.com
- Kindred Agency 020 70 10 0888/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
i. 48% UK adults worry regularly* about money – regularly equates to worrying about money at least once a week in the last month.
ii. The research was conducted by Opinium for the Money and Pensions Service. A nationally representative survey of 5,225 UK adults aged 18+ was conducted from 9th-19th October 2020.There are over 52,673,433 million people over 18 in the UK (ONS), of which 55% don’t feel comfortable talking about money when they have worries about their financial situation, equating to around 28,970,388 people.
iii. ONS data from October 2020 shows that an increasing proportion of young people aged 16 to 24 years in the UK reported that they were finding it difficult or very difficult to get by financially, with 9% saying this in 2017 to 2018, compared with 6% the previous year; in particular the increase was significant among young men of this age.
About Talk Money Week
Talk Money Week is an annual public awareness campaign, run by the Money and Pensions Service, to get the nation having conversations about money. Talking about finances has been shown to help people make better informed and less risky financial decisions, feel less stressed or anxious and more in control, have stronger personal relationships, and help their children form good lifetime money habits. Talk Money Week will take place from 9-13 November 2020.
Talk Money Week is also an annual opportunity to celebrate the work organisations are doing to support the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, launched by MaPS in January 2020, which has ambitious ten-year goals to help everyone make the most of their money and pensions.
You can join the conversation on social media at #TalkMoney and find out more by visiting www.maps.org.uk/talk-money-week.
About the Money and Pensions Service
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is here to ensure every person feels more in control of their finances throughout their lives: from pocket money to pensions. When they are, communities are healthier, businesses are more prosperous, the economy benefits and individuals feel better off. MaPS delivers free and impartial money and pensions guidance to the public through the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.
MaPS is working to make sure the whole of the UK understands that financial, physical and mental health are all deeply connected. MaPS’ role is to connect organisations with the shared purpose of achieving the five goals set out in the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing.
MaPS supports innovation so that everyone can use the most effective methods to help people feel more in control of their money, targeted to those most in need and inclusive of people from all backgrounds. MaPS is an arm’s-length body sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).