4 Most Common Financial Fears and How to Overcome Them
Like any good scary movie, the fear of the unknown is what keeps us on the edge of our seat. But what about the things that really scare us? For most Americans, financial anxieties and fears are very real. According to a 2016 study by Northwestern Mutual, 85% of U.S. adults suffer from financial anxiety.
What are some of those financial anxieties? Among most American adults in this study, fears related to unexpected expenses received the most mentions. Here are some results from the same study, where they asked the question, ‘What are your greatest financial fears?’
38% Unplanned emergencies
34% Unplanned medical expenses
32% Insufficient savings to retire
17% Job security
15% Poor credit
Let’s talk about what creates these fears, why they scare us, and how to overcome them.
Having an unplanned emergency/unplanned medical expenses.
Why it scares us: Because individuals have varying financial priorities, obligations, and goals. And for most Americans, it’s difficult to cover a $500 emergency expense—which may be anything from an auto repair to a medical emergency due to an illness.
How to overcome it: Consistent saving is key. Saving $25-$50 per paycheck, can mean approximately $1,000 in a year. That’s a nice safety net. One that can help reduce financial anxiety. Emergencies are inevitable, so building a strong savings account is like building your own life raft. There are many ways to save money to benefit you long term. So once you’ve built your emergency savings, check out other savings options.
Need to revisit your budget? Try our free, interactive Budgeting Tool.
Having insufficient savings to retire.
Why it scares us: The truth is, individuals may be saving for retirement, but don’t think about how much they’ll need until they’re closer to retirement age.
How to overcome it: The first step to planning your retirement is to set goals. Begin knowing the sooner you start saving for retirement, the better. Consider a few factors, including: what age you’d like to retire, how long you’ll be retired, and how much money you’ll need each month in order to live securely during retirement.
Once defined, saving for retirement becomes a math problem. The number of months you estimate to be retired, multiplied by the amount you’ll likely spend each month, equals the amount you should have saved by your retirement age.
Walk through Retirement 101 to learn more about refining your retirement planning strategy.
Unexpected job loss.
Why it scares us: While the unemployment rate in the U.S. has declined in the past five years and is now 3.7%, a job loss remains a relevant fear. Of those surveyed, 17% of people said losing their job was a top financial fear, with 15% of individuals fearing a prolonged period of unemployment.
How to overcome it: There’s no way to predict a sudden job loss, but there are a few ways to be better prepared for it. First, experts recommend having six months’ worth of expenses saved. If saving money has become a challenge, it may be time to revisit your budget to ensure you can begin saving for unexpected life moments like this.
Then, communicate your new budget with close family and friends. Details aren’t necessary, but let them know your new spending budget may have more home-cooked meals and/or evenings spend at free events. This is a great way to let your loved ones support your decisions and help keep away spending temptation.
You can also let your financial institution help you come up with a new plan. Financial challenges are easier to tackle with help from your credit union. Whether the plan is to use part of an emergency savings account until the storm passes or talking with a professional about short term financial adjustments, there are options to defeating this financial fear.
Having poor credit.
Why it scares us: Credit scores determine the ease and ability to qualify for credit for purchases, such as a vehicle, home, or other personal, large items (engagement ring, renovation loan, etc.). It’s natural to be afraid of tarnishing that score, as it can impact your interest rates and desire for financial institutions to invest in you.
How to overcome it: If you’re finding yourself in a less-than-desirable situation with your credit score, there are a few things to know about improving your score. One is time heals all wounds; after a certain period of time, negative information can no longer be reported. If you have missed payments on your credit history, consider calling your loan servicer to ask if there is a way to amend the missed payment. There are many ways to start improving your credit score: from opening a new line of credit to have more established relationships with lenders, to making sure you’re making on time payments, but the first step to knowing how to approach your credit score, is by getting a copy of your free credit report.
What are some financial fears you’ve had? How have you overcome them? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us in the comment section below, or contact us to share your story.