man and woman at computer discussing finances (Photo: Shutterstock)

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The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought varying degrees ofeconomic hardship for many, but it also has ledmany to adjust their short- and long-term financial planning, apair of surveys has found.

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A recent survey by The Ascent of 1,997 Americans whosince early March have lost income found that 41% of respondentssaw a reduction in work hours, 16.8% were furloughed, and 28.3%lost their jobs. The Ascent's report noted that the unemploymentrate in the U.S.—3.5% in February, heading into the pandemic—jumpedto 14.7% in April and 13.3% in May.

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The report said "one positive thing about the COVID-19 crisis(if we consider 'positive' relatively) is that it's effectivelyforcing us to be more frugal," leading 64.9% of respondents to cutback on spending.

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And to further close gaps, some (20.6%) have been able to deferor adjust essential payments such as utilities, some (19.9%) havebeen able to tap into savings, some (26.2%) have taken out a loan,and some (24.7%) have gotten a side job, the report added, notingthat many more respondents anticipated taking those steps, andothers, as they continued to deal with the fallout.

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As for long-term planning, a separate survey from nonprofit Life Happens—from about 2,000people age 18 and older—found that 67% of respondents hadreevaluated their long-term planning in the wake of thecoronavirus.

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Respondents said COVID-19 led them to discuss estate planning(33%), life insurance coverage (30%), their current financialstatus (29%) and emergency savings (27%), among other topics, thereport said.

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And the Life Happens report, similar to The Ascent's, noted thatthe pandemic has changed spending habits. Respondents said theydiscussed cutting excess spending (49%), building up savings andemergency funds (45%), delaying a planned retirement date (43%),dipping into retirement funds (37%) and paying down debts(24%).

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The pandemic has "led many of us to have long overdue, butimportant, discussions about topics like life insurance andend-of-life plans," Faisa Stafford, president and CEO of LifeHappens, said in a statement. "I'm glad these conversations arehappening, but you need to take it one step further. You need totake action now—like getting that life insurance policy you've beenputting off—so you can give yourself and your family financialpeace of mind."

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Stafford added, "The pandemic has not only shifted dailyspending habits but has also led many Americans to change theirlong-term plans."

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David Gialanella

David Gialanella, Editor-in-Chief, Business of Law and The American Lawyer, has been with ALM since 2010 in various roles. He previously managed the New Jersey Law Journal and oversaw all of ALM's regional brands. Reach him at [email protected].