The coronavirus pandemic has hit the global economy hard, but some people’s personal finances have never looked better.
Since the US shut down en masse in March, mum-of-three Paula, who lives in New Hampshire, has paid off some $20,000 (£15,270) in credit card debt the family had racked up in the aftermath of an unexpectedly expensive work relocation.
The 35-year-old’s job as an analyst ended in June, but her husband is still working and she benefited from a temporary $600 boost to weekly unemployment payments Congress approved in response to the crisis.
She put coronavirus stimulus cheques from the government towards the credit card payments, as well as thousands of dollars the family has saved since their children are not attending day care, preschool or summer camp. Already frugal when it came to eating out, the family has become even more so, she says. Their one big splurge has been bicycles.
“The quarantine has been very helpful to save money for us,” she says. “We were at home, which was madness, pure madness but… I think it saved us financially.”
The personal saving rate in the US – an average that reflects the share of income people have put away after spending and tax payments – nearly quadrupled between February and April, when it hit an all-time record of 33.6%.
Though lockdowns have eased since then, savings remain unusually high, boosted by government coronavirus assistance. In August, the personal saving rate in the US was 14.1% – greater than any pre-pandemic time since 1975.
The rise helped Americans’ household wealth rebound to a record high in the three months to July, while overall debt declined for the first time in