Share this story...
Latest News

Poll: Family finance concerns spill over to workplace

I worry about money.

I know most people are at least somewhat concerned about their family's financial situation, but I ponder such things all the time.

In fact, my wife would say I obsess about money issues. She points to the fact that I check our bank accounts online at least once, and usually twice, each day.

Doing so has allowed me to catch fraudulent credit card charges several times, which is good. But three or four good catches over the course of decades may not justify my obsessive account-watching.

Fortunately, my wife realizes I'm not likely to change my ways, and she is a patient person.

I think it's also good that she has a different relationship with money. She wants us to be careful financially and make the right choices for now and the future, but she doesn't stress about money matters.

Her mantra is that if we're doing our best, everything will work out. So far, she's been mostly correct. And the fact that we're not both stressed about money all the time is probably good for our relationship and our family.

The larger point is that people have different reactions to money issues, and those attitudes can have a big impact on their personal lives.

But according to a new survey, a person's financial outlook might also have a big impact on his or her ability to stay focused at work.

The poll by Workplace Options, an employee well-being company, found that 59 percent of 500 working Americans surveyed admitted that they regularly dealt with personal financial matters during the workday. Thirty-six percent of respondents also admitted that they had missed at least a partial day of work because of a personal financial situation or the stress that came with it.

The poll was commissioned by Workplace Options and conducted by Public Policy Polling from May 13-17. The margin of error is 4.2 percent.

It appears that almost everyone has some level of stress related to personal finances, as 86 percent of respondents reported such anxiety in the poll. Only 48 percent said they were in the same camp as me, suffering from moderate or significant money-related stress.

But when it came to dealing with financial matters at work, the survey showed significant differences in responses depending on the age of the workers questioned. For example, 61 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 29) said they had missed at least a partial workday because of financial issues or related stress, compared to 32 percent of those ages 30 to 45; 44 percent of those in the 46 to 65 age range; and 35 percent of those older than 65.

Millennials were also more likely to deal with personal finances during the workday, with 74 percent saying they had done so, compared to 59 percent overall. Even though almost six in 10 people said they had worked on personal financial issues while at work, just 31 percent said they felt like that was a distraction from their jobs.

I'm not a millennial, but I have taken a break from my workday to deal with a financial matter before. Specifically, the times that I did notice a fraudulent credit card charge, I dealt with it by finding an open time during my day so I could call the bank and other relevant parties during business hours and try to resolve the issue.

Such instances have been infrequent, however, and dealing with them was not really a distraction from my work. I would be more distracted if such a problem was nagging at the back of my mind all day while I was trying to focus on my job.

And anyway, most of the time I spend with finances is at home, where it only affects the “life” part of my work-life balance equation. (My wife and children know that it's not wise to interrupt me when I'm in the middle of balancing the checkbook each month!)

I probably spend one to three hours each week dealing with our family's finances, which was what 40 percent of respondents to the Workplace Options poll said they did. Another 40 percent said they spent more than three hours each week on personal finances, while 17 percent said they spent less than one hour per week on money-related issues.

I sometimes wish I was in that latter category, but with a household of six people, that seems unrealistic.

Another interesting poll result showed that women, at 91 percent, were more likely than men, at 81 percent, to report some level of anxiety or stress due to personal finances. I guess my wife and I would be the exceptions to that finding.

The bottom line, so to speak, is that we all need to be aware of our financial tendencies and try to manage them as best we can. When we do so, we'll be more likely to add money management to our work-life mix in the most appropriate way, giving enough time and attention to financial tasks without letting them run our lives.

That's easier said than done for me, but I plan to keep working on it. For those of you who are fellow money worriers, maybe you can help. How has your financial anxiety affected you, your job or your family? What have you done to reduce such problems?

Any tips are welcome. Leave a comment online with your response, or send me an email. I'll use some of your ideas in a future column if I revisit this topic.

Email your comments to kratzbalancingact@gmail.com or post them online at deseretnews.com. Follow me on Twitter at gkratzbalancing or on Facebook on my journalist page.