SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Aug. 17, 2021 — With summer in full swing, Americans are increasing their spending from last summer and preparing for new financial realities according to new research from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).
Experiencing financial impacts from the rise in social gatherings and re-openings, Americans are spending an average of $765 more per month compared to the summer of 2020, with Millennials and Gen Z reporting an average of spending $1,016 more per month compared to last summer. The top experience cited: dining out (36%) followed by travel or vacation (35%).
At the same time, 41% of office workers, including half of Millennials (52%), are worried about the financial costs associated with return to office when the time occurs.
FOMO vs. JOMO
As social gatherings become more frequent, more than half (51%) of Americans are feeling the effects of FOMO (fear of missing out). However, emerging from the pandemic and routine time alone, the Index finds that JOMO (joy of missing out) is outpacing FOMO as the sentiment even more likely to guide financial decisions. In fact, two-thirds (66%) also admit they experience JOMO (eg: feeling content with their own pursuits and activities) significantly more than those who report feeling FOMO. Additionally:
- Nearly all Gen Z’ers (90%) are influenced by social media to go out and spend more and 85% say they have experienced FOMO this summer.
- A sign that behaviors during the pandemic may be here to stay, 45% plan to cook at home more in their post-pandemic lives and 40% plan to stay at home more.
Return to Work and School
The Index also finds that as Americans start to think about the return to in-person work and school, many are preparing for more expenses. When given a list of stressors related to returning to the office, nearly a quarter (23%) of office workers cite an increase in expenses. Other key findings:
- One-third of U.S. office workers (33%) and 43% of Millennial workers expect to spend more when they return to in-person or hybrid work settings compared to how much they spend today, and more than one-quarter (28%) anticipate spending more than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Commuting costs (62%) are the number-one expense office workers say will contribute to their increased spending, followed by expenses related to people’s presentation of themselves – personal appearance costs (39%) and professional work clothing (38%). Other top expenses include dining/drinks out (34%), living costs such as higher rent or moving (32%), and social gatherings with friends/colleagues (32%).
- 58% of office workers want a flexible schedule because it saves them time and money, and Millennials feel this way significantly more likely than all other generations (68%).
- Emerging from the pandemic, a majority of office workers believe it is important that their employers support their financial wellness (58%) as well as their mental health and wellness needs (64%). Millennials are even more likely to value the importance of these needs (68% and 72%, respectively).
- Nearly half (46%) of parents of children K-12 expect to spend more this back-to-school season compared to in 2020, and a similar percentage (44%) expect to spend more compared to back-to-school spending pre-pandemic. The top contributor to this increase is new clothing (69%), followed closely by school supplies (67%).
“As Americans navigate the constantly evolving COVID environment, they’re also recalibrating their financial lives to prepare for new costs, shifting priorities and changes to their personal and professional lives,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual US. “During uncertain times, we’re here to help people plan ahead to make financial security a constant for themselves and their loved ones.”