Warren Buffett once told shareholders: “I have pledged — to you, the rating agencies, and myself — to always run Berkshire with more than ample cash. We never want to count on the kindness of strangers in order to meet tomorrow’s obligations. When forced to choose, I will not trade even a night’s sleep for the chance of extra profits.” That has proven to be a successful strategy for the Oracle of Omaha, but many Americans are failing to apply the same principles to their personal finances.
A lack of cash and an abundance of debt appears to be causing insomnia. According to a new poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 79 percent of respondents said that their personal finances keep them awake at night, compared to only 13 percent who say they sleep like a baby. The remaining people say marital concerns, job security, and problems with the children are the cause of their sleep issues.
“In addition to the obvious credit problems resulting from overwhelming debt, financial concerns can wreck marriages, tear families apart, and put a person’s job in jeopardy due to being distracted while at work,” said the NFCC. “Debt is like a dark cloud that follows a person 24 hours per day. They wake up with it, take it to work with them, and as the NFCC poll confirmed, they take it back to bed with them.”
On the positive, the people in the poll recognized they have issues with their personal finances and may even receive free or low-cost help. The NFCC member agencies provide a number of services, including budget counseling, debt management programs, and bankruptcy pre-filing counseling and pre-discharge education. Overall, the NFCC finds that seven out of 10 consumers in the nation have financial worries, with lack of savings, job issues, and debt or credit problems topping the list.
“There are two pieces of good news that can be gleaned from the poll,” said Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the NFCC. “First of all, the respondents were able to identify the source of their distress, and secondly, they went to a reliable and trusted resource, www.DebtAdvice.org, for help. Their next step should be to reach out to an NFCC member agency for customized and solution-oriented assistance.”
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