Does who’s in charge impact your finances? It’s common for us to believe that the president of the United States — whoever that is — has a profound impact on the details of our lives. This is particularly true when we consider finances and the economy.
Our latest Student Loan Hero survey reveals that more than half our respondents are concerned that Donald Trump’s presidency will hurt their finances. Not only are many Americans concerned that policies enacted during this administration will cause financial problems, but 60% of them also feel stress when they think of the potential impacts.
Recent data backs up the idea that Americans are increasingly worried about the consequences the last election could have on their money situation. In November 2017, the American Psychological Association (APA) released the results of its latest “Stress in America” survey. The number one source of stress was “the future of our nation,” followed closely by money. The president and his policies seem to be taking a toll on Americans.
Other takeaways from the Student Loan Hero survey include respondents’ lack of faith that recently-passed legislation will lower their tax bills, as well as concerns that the president’s Twitter habits could negatively impact the economy. Check out the details below.
President Trump and your finances
Despite President Trump’s campaign-trail assurances that his policies would bring economic success to the middle class, 52% of respondents worry that his presidency will hurt them. This includes 20% of self-identified Republicans who said their party’s leader will cause them financial problems.
Meanwhile, younger respondents were far more likely than their older counterparts to believe in the negative impacts of Trump’s presidency, with only 13% of those aged 18 to 29 saying they thought the impact to their finances would be positive.
Only 8% of respondents thought that the president will have no impact at all on their finances, while 20% weren’t sure if there will be financial fallout.
When the focus is less on individual finances and more on the overall economy, the results are a little more evenly split. However, even 28% of Republicans responding to this survey felt the president has had a negative impact on the economy in the last year.
The impact President Trump has on the economy might even be exerted through his tweets, according to our survey. Fifty-six percent of our respondents felt that the president’s Twitter habits had a negative impact on the economy, while only 6% thought they had a positive effect on the economy.
Among Trump voters, however, the predominant feeling was that the president’s tweets don’t matter to the economy at all.
Money, stress, and President Trump
Financial concerns can cause very real stress. From stress related to student loan debt to worries about taxes, real symptoms can result when money matters are involved.
About 60% of our respondents reported feeling some level of stress when thinking about the potential financial impact of the Trump administration, with 18% saying they experienced “major stress.” The top three symptoms of Trump-related financial stress were anxiety, loss of sleep, and depression. Other physical symptoms included headaches and fatigue.
Even though most of those distressed about the potential financial implications of the Trump presidency were Democrats or unaffiliated, 25% of Republicans also blamed some level of financial stress on the White House.
Part of this stress might have to do with expenses related to healthcare. The 2017 Consumer Health Survey conducted by Oliver Wyman found that many consumers feel the system doesn’t work as it could (or should) — and that rising healthcare costs are a major concern. The APA’s survey puts healthcare as the number one concern related to the future of the country.
The worries may be linked to increases in health insurance premiums, which Kaiser Health News attributed to uncertainty over the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In some states, insurers were asking for premium increases of as much as 30% for 2018.
The recent tax reform act eliminates ACA’s penalty for not buying insurance, raising questions about what could happen down the road with fewer healthy people in the marketplace. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicates that millions could lose their healthcare coverage in the coming decade.
“Average premiums in the nongroup market would increase by about 10 percent in most years of the decade,” according to the CBO’s report. Fewer healthier people purchasing insurance and prices rising “would cause more people not to purchase insurance,” creating a vicious circle.
But healthcare and the economy aren’t the only concerns that weigh on Americans when they think about their finances.
Pessimism about tax reform
Our survey’s respondents were also worried about paying taxes. Fifty-one percent said they feel stressed, depressed, or anxious when they think about how much they pay each year in taxes. There were no real differences in responses based on whether respondents voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
The just-passed tax reform package, though, hasn’t done much to assuage Americans’ fears about how much money they owe in taxes. Our survey was conducted a few days before the passage of the legislation, and concerns about what would ultimately be included were apparent.
Even among Republicans, there was a sizeable amount of skepticism about the tax reform. Half of the Republican respondents thought they would see lower taxes as a result of the new tax laws, while the other half either didn’t believe their tax bills would drop, or were unsure of the results.
How to protect your finances from any president
Bottom line: Our survey indicates that Americans aren’t sure President Trump will be good for their finances, and concerns that they will be negatively impacted are causing stress for some.
If you are worried about what will happen to your money as a result of the Trump presidency — or even if you want to position yourself for the next president — now is the time to take steps to shore up your finances. Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself — no matter what:
- Manage your debt. Create a plan to pay off high-interest credit card debt, and consider refinancing student loans to lower rates with more manageable payments. The best student loan refinance companies offer other perks. If you are worried about how your federal student loans impact your monthly cash flow, consider applying for income-driven repayment.
- Boost your savings. Start setting aside money for your emergency fund and putting money into a retirement account.
- Cut your costs. Look for ways to reduce your expenses and live within your means. Be ready with a list of regular purchases you can get rid of if your financial situation changes and you need to curtail your spending further.
- Get the right insurance coverage. Cover your assets with the right health, auto, and home (or rental) insurance. When tragedy strikes, you’ll be less dependent on your own money to cover the losses.
- Start a side hustle. Don’t forget to diversify your income. Start a side hustle (or two) as a way to bring in extra cash that you can bank toward other goals.
- Keep your skills sharp. Maintain certifications and learn new things so that you remain marketable. In an economic downturn, your marketable skills can save your job or help you find a new one.
- Build a support system. Understand what resources are available to you from the government, your local community, and your family and friends. Your networks can help you in a pinch.
Student Loan Hero conducted this survey via Survey Monkey on December 14, 2017, and collected responses from a nationally representative sample of 504 adults living in the United States. The survey results have a margin of error of ±4%.