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Investors Cutting Back to Pay for Essentials: Study

What You Need to Know

  • A study from Wells Fargo & Co. shows that two-thirds of investors repeatedly check their phones when the market declines.
  • More than 40% surveyed say that they want to cash out of their investments.
  • A quarter of respondents with money in the stock market say they are investing less to free up cash.

“Doomscrolling,” or continually checking one’s phone when a terrible event has its grip on the country or the world, has gone through several phases over the past decade — from the protests around George Floyd’s murder to the pandemic to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Now, a new study by Wells Fargo & Co. finds that two-thirds of investors are repeatedly checking their investments on their phones when the market is going down. Fifty percent of male respondents and 27% of female ones said they check the value of their investments multiple times per week.

This is understandable, as 77% of investors surveyed expressed concern about fluctuations in the market, and 66% said they are nervous about their money.

They are so nervous, in fact, that 42% want to cash out of their investments, and 29% said they would cash out their IRA or 401(k) investments if they could do so without tax penalties.

Inflation Is the Culprit

Inflation is cutting into household budgets, with a quarter of respondents with money in the stock market reporting that they were investing less so they could use their cash for regular household expenses — in particular, groceries, transportation, gas, utilities, debt and housing.

Participants with money in the stock market consider inflation the biggest threat to their investments. Two-thirds said lower inflation would make them feel more confident, and 44% said a decline in interest rates would do so.

Other confidence boosters respondents cited are decreased gas prices, end of the war in Ukraine, a shift in U.S. politics, an end to U.S. labor shortages and a cure for COVID-19.

“Uncertainty on so many levels can cause people to focus in on their present self, or immediate needs and circumstances — and to lose focus on their future self, or more strategic priorities like retirement readiness,” Michael Liersch, head of advice and planning in Wells Fargo’s wealth and investment management business, said in a statement.

“The irony is that this is the moment when we need to keep balance between our present and future selves, and potentially even dedicate more, not less, to our future selves.”

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