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Americans Hoarded ‘Mattress Money’ to Survive During Pandemic

People prefer keeping cash ready at hand when perceived risks are high.

Remember all the toilet paper people hoarded at the start of the pandemic? Turns out they hoarded cash and other easy money, too, and for the same reason: survival instincts.

Check out this chart, which shows how Americans reacted financially to the Covid-19 pandemic. They took money out of time deposits, such as certificates of deposit, and put more money into accounts that gave them faster access. The numbers are derived from the Statistics on Depository Institutions Report of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The chart is inspired by Dan Geller, the founder of San Francisco-based Analyticom LLC, which applies insights from behavioral economics to how people make financial decisions. Geller uses the FDIC data to calculate a Money Anxiety Index, which he says shot up during the pandemic.