A national survey conducted by LendingTree has detailed the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic on parents with children under the age of 18.
The survey, which polled 1,005 parents from April 28 to May 2, found 56% of respondents have gone into debt due to circumstances related to the pandemic, with 4 in 10 taking on new credit card debt and 15% taking out a personal loan to cover expenses.
Single parents were particularly hard hit, with nearly 1 in 5 who were either single, divorced or separated acknowledging they couldn’t pay their credit card bill last month, compared with 9% of married parents, while 15% of single parents were unable to pay their rent or mortgage in full.
The survey found 36% of parents used their child’s college fund to help cover expenses. Respondents said the hardest part of the pandemic has been trying to work from home while taking care of kids (31%), followed by managing their child’s distance learning (19%) and dealing with income loss (18%). Adding to the financial strain was buying the necessary tools to operate from home – respondents spent an average of roughly over $1,000 on supplies ranging from iPads and laptops (48%) to office furniture (15%).
“The truth is that even before the outbreak hit, most Americans’ financial margin for error was tiny,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at LendingTree and parent of an eighth-grade student. “That means that even minor changes can have a major impact on the family budget. Then, when you consider how many parents are dealing with job losses or medical problems while also struggling to make sure their kids stay on track with school, it makes this time even more challenging financially.”