A Sanlam survey investigated the impact of the pandemic through the lens of asking people what they wish they’d known or done differently before coronavirus struck. File Image
A Sanlam survey investigated the impact of the pandemic through the lens of asking people what they wish they’d known or done differently before coronavirus struck. File Image

56% of South Africans have seen their savings decrease since the pandemic started

By Vernon Pillay Time of article published Nov 16, 2021

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In a startling new survey, Sanlam found that 56% of South Africans polled saw their savings decrease since the advent of Covid-19.

Conducted as part of Sanlam’s Letters to My Pre-Covid-19 Self campaign, the survey (1 200 respondents) further revealed that 57% of South Africans experienced an overall negative impact on their finances, with 59% saying they had to change their spending habits. Finances were also named as a serious stressor for relationships and mental health.

The survey delved into three key areas: finances, relationships and health. It investigated the impact of the pandemic, through the lens of asking people what they wish they’d known or done differently before coronavirus struck.

Farzana Botha, segment solutions manager at Sanlam Savings, says: “Findings from the survey were humbling and thought-provoking. It’s clear this pandemic has caused many to re-evaluate what’s important. One silver lining is that 43% of participants said they’ve started talking about money more, 32% have set new financial goals and 31% said they’ve relooked their financial plans. Money talk is often taboo, so it’s encouraging to see households deciding to walk a closer financial journey together, during these tough times.”

Here are some key findings from the survey:

Money:

  • 54% of South Africans are not able to make their money stretch to month-end
  • Most respondents (63%) said they wished their pre-pandemic selves had saved consistently. 52% said they wished they’d avoided debt. These findings were especially true for younger people.
  • 18% of respondents had no savings to start with. With no financial buffer, these individuals were seriously impacted by the pandemic.

Relationships:

  • Sadly, 55% of people said financial pressure, coupled with all the uncertainty tied to the pandemic, had put strain on their relationships.
  • 31% of respondents cited depression and anxiety as their main relationship stressor; 30% said loss of employment or income.
  • Lockdown was a kind of relationship pressure cooker; some people felt closer to their loved ones, others experienced the opposite. Most individuals said the pandemic made them appreciate moments with family and friends more.

Health:

  • 57% of South Africans cited financial stress as having had the most major impact on their mental wellbeing. These respondents tended to be younger (18-24).
  • The second biggest stressor was worry about one’s health and the health of loved ones.
  • 21% of South Africans started using prescription medication to help with stress and anxiety.
  • A further 21% began investing in online and physical exercise options like gym or yoga.

Botha concluded: “We continually see the impact money has on people’s wellbeing and relationships. At Sanlam, we are committed to assisting South Africans to live with confidence by empowering people through financial knowledge and tools. We encourage individuals to reach out to a financial planner to create a financial plan with goal specific outcomes. It’s never too late to turn a situation around! Now’s the time to save and start an emergency fund.”

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