SURVEY SAYS: Looking Ahead a Year

NEWSDash readers shared changes to living arrangements and savings they are contemplating as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.

Last week, I asked NEWSDash readers what things they are thinking about changing within the next 12 months.

Nearly eight in 10 said they are “not at all likely” to move and 9.5% are “somewhat unlikely” to do so. But for 6.3% a move within the next 12 months is “somewhat likely” and for 4.8% it is “very likely.” After spending more time in their houses, home renovations are somewhat or very likely for 36.5% of responding readers, while 22.2% are somewhat unlikely and 41.3% are not at all likely to renovate their house within the next 12 months.

Asked how likely they are to change jobs, 63.5% indicated they are not at all likely, 23.8% are somewhat unlikely, 9.5% are somewhat likely and 3.2% are very likely to do so. For some people, the financial effects of COVID-19 may reveal they are unprepared for retirement, while for others, the effects may show they are ready for a leaner lifestyle. Noting, however, that our survey respondents fall into a range of age groups, 77.8% reported they are not at all likely to retire within the next 12 months, and 14.3% are somewhat unlikely to do so. Less than 2% are very likely to retire, and 6.3% are somewhat likely to do so.

As for saving money, 44.4% of responding readers said they are somewhat likely to start or increase emergency savings within the next 12 months, and 14.3% are very likely to do so. Approximately two in 10 each reported being somewhat unlikely or not at all likely to start/increase emergency savings (19% and 22.2%, respectively). Nineteen percent indicated they are very likely to increase their retirement savings in the next 12 months and 42.9% are somewhat likely to do so, while 20.6% said they are somewhat unlikely and 17.5% said they are not at all likely to increase retirement savings.

In verbatim comments about changes within the next 12 months, readers mentioned cutting back on unnecessary expenses such as cable, cutting back on air travel and taking on a new hobby. It was obvious that the pandemic has caused quite a few to think about their living situations and finances. I was happy to see that several have remained in a good position because of their planning and actions they’ve taken. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I think this is a unique point in time to reassess your life, and what your priorities are going to be once this is over.”

A big thank you to all who participated in the survey.


Lucky for me, we already moved recently. Relocated for a job. So, I don’t think I could do anything to convince my wife to pack up and move again. So, the first part of the survey was easy to answer.

My marriage status…and parental status.

The goal is to pay off the house ASAP! 7 Years left on the loan hope to pay it off in a year.

If my job or housing change, it won’t be by choice. If I didn’t have a newly unemployed spouse I’d be saving more.

I already save quite a bit. Looking forward to 59 1/2 so I can take some money out of my 401(k) and invest in the real estate crash that’s coming in the next 6 months or so

The COVID experience has been a scary time. I was doing all the “right” things and have seen my decades of retirement savings plummet, my employment pivoting, my health in precarious jeopardy, education at a stall, basic reliable services and merchandise becoming scarce and a heavy turn to technology. I am going to do my best to give to others and to be happy every day because I can own that.

I am concerned about job security in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But if my job is eliminated, this may be the nudge I need to retire. I have learned over the past couple of months that I can live much more simply and cheaply than I realized before the virus changed everything.

Complete my will and get all affairs in order for dependents

NO AIR TRAVEL, where in the past I air traveled a lot….

I would just about give my house away to retire in the next 12 months. Sadly, it will be about 5 more years 🙁

Seems silly to put money in your 401(K) only to watch it disappear with this market. I am funneling my extra cash into a savings account — at least I can’t lose the money.

I’m not sure I can afford to spend more considering I’m having to take a pay cut.

I planned to move in about three years to the state where I plan to retire, but I have decided life is too short to stay in a place where I am not completely happy. This virus has reminded me that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

The biggest change I am hoping to make is working more from home. My employer has hinted that this will be a strong possibility, as our company has seamlessly continued our work and mission from home. Working from home two or three days a week would better my mental health and better the environment!

There is new 401(k) legislation proposed that will allow you to contribute up to 100% of your salary to your 401(k). I intend to take advantage if passed.

We had good timing in that we sold our home and downsized to a smaller home and moved to a new town just before this all happened. We’ve already renovated the new home and are on target for a retirement in 2022. Following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps for 15 years has put us in a good position. Plus, both my husband and I work for the public school system so we have job security and retiree health insurance. Plans to increase our emergency savings and retirement savings were already in our financial plan.

No changes

No changes are needed. We have adequate emergency savings, retirement, and are on track to retire in a few years (after the market recovers).

I have planned well, on track for a secure retirement.

You should be revisiting these changes every few years or so, but when something like this happens, it either shoves everything to the back of the mind or the immediate front!

I’ve been following a plan and will stick with it. I’m not planning any significant changes other than increasing exercise.

Being in the house for so long, I realized that I don’t have a hobby. My husband and I spend a lot of time going out to dinner, attending car shows and meeting friends. We need to find a hobby that we can do together that has a “purpose”.

We are fortunate enough to be both still working and are big savers, so we have the emergency fund already. We used this opportunity to explain to our high school senior and college sophomore why you need to have that savings fund as so many people don’t and are now in dire straits.

I think this is a unique point in time to reassess your life, and what your priorities are going to be once this is over.

I’m running out of things to do around the house! Painted 3 rooms; cleaned the yard; weeding is done; pulled out a bush; cut down a tree; cleaned out the cellar. I need something to do this weekend!

My answers to the questions are the same as they would have been prior to the pandemic. We bought a new house 2 years ago, still plan to work in the same job to retirement in a couple years, still saving. Although my answers haven’t changed, I sincerely hope that the pandemic has been a wakeup call for those that don’t have any money saved!

I have continued to work outside the home throughout the pandemic due to working for an essential business so my routines haven’t changed much. I actually like the social distancing thing. I’m not one for crowds.

Eliminate home phone and cable TV


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.