Inflation, high gas prices contributing to financial anxiety

Gasoline prices are displayed at a Los Angeles gas station on Feb. 8, 2022.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

As inflation climbs to historic highs, rising gasoline and other consumer prices are among Americans’ top concerns, a survey finds.

Yet more than one-third of respondents — 35% — have no investment account or any investments at all, the survey from eMoney Advisor found, even though investing would be a good way to have their money grow faster than inflation.

When asked what their biggest concerns were for 2022, the top responses included gas prices, with 43%; followed by paying bills, 42%; and inflation, 40%. Other worries included retirement savings, with 33% of respondents, and taxes, 32%.

“This survey is really showing that there’s a lot of financial anxiety that’s caused by inflation, market volatility and just that uncertainty coming out of the pandemic and the impact that that’s had on everyone in their everyday lives,” said Celeste Revelli, a certified financial planner and director of financial planning at eMoney.

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The survey, which included 2,000 adults ages 18 and up, was conducted in mid-December.

Government data for January released Thursday showed inflation notched a new record. The Consumer Price Index, which measures the costs of consumer goods, climbed 7.5% compared to one year ago, the highest reading since 1982.

Moreover, the national average for a gallon of gas hit a seven-year high last week, coming in at $3.423, according to AAA.

The eMoney survey respondents who are investing are turning to assets including stocks, with 48%; cryptocurrencies, 43%; mutual funds, 41%; and real estate and bonds, each with 36%.

But the lack of participation in any investments from more than a third of respondents points to bigger financial problems Americans may be dealing with in the current economic environment.

“What we’re uncovering here is a deeper need for Americans who currently aren’t being served by financial services,” Revelli said.

“There’s maybe barriers they’re dealing with, such as living paycheck to paycheck and not being able to save or invest,” she said.

Another survey from TIAA found that just 22% of respondents gave themselves the highest scores on financial wellness — a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Meanwhile, 21% of respondents gave themselves the lowest scores of 1 to 4.

When it comes to beating inflation, financial advisors generally recommend investing in equities, which have a record of surpassing consumer prices over time.

And other tips, such as negotiating down your debts, paring back your lifestyle and reducing your gas consumption where you can, can also help, experts say.

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