Personal Finance

Young professionals risk financial burnout as they weather their first big crisis

Key Points
  • For people ages 15 to 29, the coronavirus pandemic is their first big financial crisis.
  • For many, that means wondering if they will still have a job and worrying about how they will pay their bills.
  • Those worries could lead to financial burnout and neglect of big picture goals like retirement savings.
A restaurant employee wearing a protective mask poses behind the counter amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 28, 2020 in New York City.
Alexi Rosenfeld

When it comes to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, many young professionals are asking, "Will I still have a job?"

And no wonder, as 63% of young Americans are worried they will lose their jobs versus 52% of Americans overall, a survey from TD Ameritrade found.

Those fears are not unjustified, with 1 in 3 young Americans reporting as of April 18 that they had been laid off or put on temporary leave.

The numbers are particularly stark for members of Gen Z (ages 15 to 22), who are almost three times more likely to be laid off than their older counterparts. One reason is that younger workers are more likely to work in service positions.

The survey focused on young Americans ages 15 to 29, and was conducted online between February and April.

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One big consequence of this stress is burnout, with 85% of young Americans reporting they feel pushed to the limit in at least one area when it comes to their jobs, managing their finances, studying or social media.

"They're just starting off and trying to get their footing in general," said Molly Passantino, senior specialist of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade. "Now there's an additional setback with the coronavirus."

The tasks that cause the most financial burnout, according to survey respondents, are saving and budgeting, likely due to the more limited cash flow many are experiencing.

That was followed by car maintenance, shopping for insurance, investing, managing and paying for student loans, retirement planning or splitting bills with friends or roommates.

Meanwhile, a majority of young Americans said they are "living like they are broke" rather than above their means. That goes for 62% of Gen Z and 59% of young millennials.

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With both generations feeling frazzled by their short-term financial needs, that means long-term planning falls by the wayside. More than half of respondents agreed with the statement, "Just thinking about retirement makes me feel burned out."

Millennial women, in particular, are most likely to feel that they don't know where to start with retirement planning, the survey found.

One key to combating this is to remember that there are resources to help you with planning, whether it be a professional money coach or a budgeting app, Passantino said.

"This is not something you need to do alone," she added. "If you need help, there's plenty of resources that you can get for your specific situation."