Study shows financial stress up 35pc in Malaysia since Covid-19 hit

Malaysia’s high cost of living is the most common factor leading to financial stress, followed by low income and low savings. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Malaysia’s high cost of living is the most common factor leading to financial stress, followed by low income and low savings. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — The financial stress faced by Malaysians since the pandemic began in the country last year has gone up some 35 per cent, according to a recent study by the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK).

The study titled “Money and Mental Well-Being” conducted last year found more than 65 per cent out of 3,115 Malaysians interviewed felt that financial stress has affected their job performance, The Sunday Star reported today.

And 41 per cent admitted that financial stress has taken a toll on their mental health.

“A domino effect occurs when a worker’s worried state of mind affects their job performance,” AKPK chief executive officer Azaddin Ngah Tasir was reported saying.

The AKPK study polled a total of 3,115 working adults between 18 and 60 years-old from the public and private sectors as well as those who are self-employed.

According to the news report, Malaysia’s high cost of living is the most common factor leading to financial stress, followed by low income and low savings.

“As expected, those who have savings cope better in managing financial stress.

“The most vulnerable group consists of those with the least amount of savings,” Azaddin reportedly said.

The study found that workers aged between 30 and 39 years-old have the highest financial stress scores compared to their peers from other age groups, while young workers aged 29 and below were more stressed by low salaries and overspending.

According to the news report, government employees who participated in the survey seemed to have better mental health compared to their private sector peers, while men were found to experience higher financial stress compared to women.

“Civil servants had higher mental well-being scores than those who are in the private sector and self-employed.

“Women cope with financial stress better than men.

“If men are more stressed by high debt burden, women are more worried about overspending,” Azaddin was quoted saying.

The survey also found that nearly half of working Malaysians are not very confident in handling financial issues, with 46 per cent reportedly saying they are not sure of their own ability to cope with financial stress.

“Like mental health cases, those with financial struggles seek help only when it’s too late.

“Even more worrying, financial stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is closely related to mental health issues,” Azaddin was reported saying.

The AKPK also called on Malaysian workers to increase their financial literacy through the agency's existing services as well as those offered by other agencies to learn about cash flow, credit and risk management.

It also urged employers to play their role, with regards to their workers well-being in the current pandemic situation.

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