Putting It Off: Pandemic Delays Financial Decisions

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a bite out of the finances of many Americans, leading to increased debt and delayed retirements. Now there is more evidence of the pandemic's impact on pocketbooks. A new Bankrate survey shows a substantial portion of Americans are putting off major financial decisions due to coronavirus. "A little more than 1 in 3 are telling us they have delayed at least one financial milestone as a result of the pandemic," says Mark Hamrick, Bankrate senior economic analyst. "That could be something like searching for a new job, getting married, or getting retired."

'Getting retired' is definitely among the list of delayed financial milestones. Among Baby Boomers in the survey, 71 percent have postponed their retirement during the pandemic. "In the cases where they're delaying retirement, they're doing so for at least six months," says Hamrick. "And nearly 4 out of 10 say they're doing so indefinitely."

Retirement aside, the survey finds younger people (millennials and Gen Zers) are more likely to be putting off big financial moves like moving, buying a car or buying a home. But, more than half of all those surveyed noted their financial situation hasn't changed since the pandemic began. "It doesn't necessarily need to be that one has lost a job or has less income coming in, it could be simply the fear of the unknown amid all the uncertainty we're facing that's leading them to put off some of these goals," says Hamrick.

Even when the pandemic is over and unemployment levels fall, Hamrick predicts it will take awhile for all of this backlogged economic activity to fully restore. "As we see individuals putting off such important decisions as buying a home, buying a car, getting married, having children, retiring...this is going to be something that persists," he says. "Because it's going to be a race to catch up, and that's going to be a long process."

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