Last year’s stock market volatility rattled Americans so much that almost 2 in 3 prefer to have their money sit in cash on the sidelines rather than endure market swings.
That is the latest finding from Allianz Life, which asked this question for the first time in a recent survey of 1,005 adults over 18 in December.
And data released in January by the Department of Commerce shows that Americans are again starting to sock away more cash. The savings rate for December was 3.4% — the highest level in seven months and the biggest month-over-month jump since July 2021.
While cash savings look more attractive now given the higher yields on safer investments, some experts worry that if Americans pull money from the stock market to try to avoid losses, they may end up missing the returns on the way back up.
“If you are keeping money in cash in an attempt to time the market, don’t,” Kelly LaVigne, Allianz’s vice president of consumer insights, told Yahoo Finance. “Trying to time the market will be a failure. What we know is that as the market improves, the bulk of those gains will be made in just a few days. So, if you miss those big days, you’re going to be behind.”
‘Comfort with investing’ declined
The reality is that investing in the stock market is worrisome for many Americans right now.
“We don’t have a comparison of the number of people who are sitting on cash rather than investing back to 2020 and 2021, but one point we can look at is comfort with investing,” LaVigne said.
Just 19% of Americans say they are comfortable with current market conditions and ready to invest now, according to the report. That’s down from 26% in the third quarter of 2022 and 29% at this time last year.
And more than three-quarters of Americans think the market will continue to be very volatile in 2023. In fact, if markets continue to be shaky in 2023, 65% say they will have to adjust their retirement and investment plans, up from 57% at this time last year.
“The volatility in today’s market is scary, especially for people who are approaching or in retirement,” LaVigne said. “But money kept in cash isn’t helping your long-term finances. Cash in an everyday checking account isn’t growing, so with today’s inflation, you’re losing money.”
Whispers of a looming recession coupled with still-high inflation also aren’t helping Americans feel the need to take more risk when investing.
More than three-quarters of Americans are more concerned about paying bills right now than saving for their financial future, according to the …….