Over Half of Americans Named These 2 Issues as Their No. 1 Financial Fears
Sure, you can worry about the glaciers melting in Antarctica at a rapid pace or what prompted the networks to cancel your favorite TV sitcom. That’s valid. But it stands to reason that these qualms aren’t what keeps you up at night. A new poll from Gallup suggests Americans stress over financial fears the most. Among them are providing for your kids’ future (page 4) and certain retirement worries (page 7).
What particularly has Americans’ anxiety level creeping higher? Here are the eight financial fears people report burdening their thoughts the most.
8. Tackling credit card payments
- 18% of Americans fear they won’t be able to make the minimum payments on their credit cards.
When it comes to financial fears, many Americans place debilitating credit card debt at the top of their list. Most understand they must make minimum payments on their credit card to avoid compounding debt and a sinking credit score, yet almost 1 in five people worry about finding the cash to do so each month. This is a legitimate fear, considering late payments only dig you deeper. Value Penguin notes interest rates reached an average of 13.16% to 14.99% in 2017.
Conversely, 64% don’t worry at all — and that may be the problem.
Next: Alarming stats that support this valid financial fear
7. Paying rent, mortgage, and other housing costs on time
- 30% of Americans worry about paying their rent, mortgage, or other housing payments
The median monthly mortgage payment for American homeowners is $1,030, according to the latest housing survey. That number rises to $1,492 when adding in monthly housing costs associated with a mortgage. The Washington Post says millions of Americans are in negative equity positions on their home, owing at least 25% more on their mortgages than their homes would command on market.
Rent only continues to creep higher, too. So it makes sense that about one-third of Americans are burdened by housing anxiety each month.
Next: Expensive fees
6. Keeping up with monthly bills
- 34% of Americans fear falling behind on their monthly bills
Gallup’s poll also highlights just how many people’s financial fears surround their monthly bills. Sure, you can cut back on frivolous expenses like cable and dining out, but that doesn’t negate an exorbitant energy bill, regular insurance fees, or the grocery bill that often surpasses some car payments. Add this sincere fear to growing housing concerns and it’s enough to keep many adults tossing and turning through the night.
Next: You’ll do anything for your kids, right?
5. College for the kids
- 37% of Americans worry they won’t have enough money to pay for their children’s college
You want what’s best for your children, including education. Unfortunately, the cost of college is still rising faster than financial aid. And high school counselors are still pushing four-year degrees as a young person’s best chance for employment. For parents who are just trying to stay afloat, finding a way to pay for college is a valid concern. College Board says tuition has risen 213% in 30 years.
Gallup’s poll says 37% of people list this as their No. 1 financial fear, though it rises to 70% for adults with children under age 18. On the flip side, just 32% of Americans said they weren’t worried about funding college at all — the lowest of all financial fears.
Next: How much does it take to be happy?
4. Maintaining an enjoyable standard of living
- 43% of Americans worry about funding a standard of living that is enjoyable
Many believe $70,000 to be the magic number — that the average American must make at least this much to maintain a “happy” standard of living. The problem is that the median household income in this country is closer to $60,000, or $59,039 to be exact. Given what we already know about costly monthly expenses and the financial fears associated with them, it’s understandable why maintaining an adequate standard of living is a major source of stress for many.
Next: The dreaded “H” word.
3. Paying for everyday healthcare
- 44% of Americans stress about paying for standard healthcare costs
According to Gallup, not being able to afford medical costs for normal healthcare is a serious financial fear. In fact, it’s a top three concern for many Americans. Fewer employers — less than half of all employers — offer their workers health benefits. That number shrinks even smaller for micro businesses. Naturally, this provokes worry over how to cover normal health costs for themselves and their families in addition to all other financial responsibilities.
Next: Who isn’t worried about this next fear?
2. Where their retirement money will come from
- 58% of Americans are very worried about funding their retirement the most
Well over half of Americans say retirement is their No. 1 financial fear. Boomers are getting creative in their methods to afford retirement, not limited to downsizing into tiny homes and permanent RV living. It’s a wise move considering most people’s Social Security payout is barely enough to live on and the percentage of Americans who are behind on their retirement savings has reached alarming levels.
This is also a generational fear. The majority of people worried about retirement are still in the workforce. Only 37% of retired people listed this as a top concern, suggesting retirement requires years of financial preparation to do it successfully.
Next: Fearing the unknown
1. Paying for a serious medical event or illness
- 58% of Americans fear costly and unforeseen medical costs the most
Lacking money to pay for medical care in the event of a serious illness or accident and running out of money in retirement are tied as America’s worrisome financial issues, according to Gallup. This suggests that Americans fear the unknown more than anything. Nearly six in 10 people say they are “moderately” or “very” worried about the potential for this type of catastrophic event to derail their financial futures.
Establishing an emergency fund or stockpiling savings in various accounts could help alleviate some of the pressure people feel surrounding this issue, but saving money becomes less of a priority when other more necessary expenses require your attention.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!