Hard times: One in four Americans have missed a bill payment since COVID-19 emerged


Paying off bills is tough for many these days, and a new survey shows that Americans are cutting costs or even adopting a ‘minimalistic’ lifestyle to make ends meet.


NEW YORK — From our social lives to professional careers, life as we know it has shifted since the beginning of 2020. Well, almost everything; millions may have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean the bills have stopped coming. Indeed, paying off bills are an unavoidable part of life, even during a pandemic. Unfortunately, a new survey of 2,000 Americans finds that one in four (24%) have already missed at least one payment since the pandemic began.

Among that group, 26% say they haven’t paid their cell phone or cable bills. Another 25% failed to pay for streaming services, and perhaps more worryingly, some of their electricity or utilities bills.

On average, Americans who admit to skipping a bill payment have missed five bills altogether.

Commissioned by EnergyBot, the survey set out to gauge just how much COVID-19 has dealt a blow to Americans financially. Predictably, money is a big concern these days. In fact, 63% say they’re “always” worried about paying all their bills right now. Similarly, 58% are battling extra stress over their bills since the pandemic started.

Ways we’re cutting back

With those last stats in mind, it makes sense then that 65% of respondents admit they’ve had to make some sacrifices lately to make ends meet. What type of sacrifices are we talking about? Many have cancelled subscription services (38%) and gym memberships (39%). Others are cutting costs by no longer ordering takeout food (35%).

All in all, 52% say they only buy the “essentials” these days. Another 43% are no longer buying premium quality goods (toilet paper, gas) in an effort to save some cash. Some are adopting new lifestyles: 41% say they’re following “minimalistic” approach to life.

Moreover, about two in five people never use their credit card anymore because it encourages them to spend more.

Raiding retirement to pay off bills

A third of Americans have also been forced to dip into their savings accounts because of COVID-19. On that note, 55% of respondents often feel “overwhelmed” by just how much the coronavirus has changed their financial footing.

Even small expenses, like repairing a broken home appliance, just aren’t possible right now. A significant portion of respondents (35%) have learned to live without a broken appliance because they just can’t afford to fix it. Meanwhile, 68% have tried to fix the appliance themselves (or asked a spouse to fix it). Others (33%) have used some of their savings to solve such issues when they were unable to fix the item themselves.

Another 37% say, however, that they wouldn’t even have enough savings to fix appliances if they were to break.

A few other common ways Americans are saving money through this pandemic are: turning off lights when they’re not needed (62%); turning off appliances when they’re not being used (46%); closing windows/doors when the heat is on (42%); opening the windows instead of using AC (36%); and using blinds to adjust room temperature (33%).

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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