Financial Fear Factor: Why Many Americans Lack Money Confidence

Financial Fear Factor: Why Many Americans Lack Money Confidence

Maybe you racked up a bit of credit card debt in the Macy’s shoe section that you're still struggling to pay off. Or you’re too ashamed to admit you don’t know what the term “401(k)” means.

Whatever the reason, people across the U.S. are seriously lacking in the confidence department when it comes to their finances.

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According to a new survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, as many as 26% of people say they can’t get a handle on their money and they’d prefer not to deal with it at all. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just 8% say they’ve got a “good grip” on their finances.

An obvious solution for anyone feeling insecure about her financial life is to schedule an appointment with a financial adviser. But for many Americans, the thought of meeting with a professional is actually more stressful than going it alone.

Respondents in the NFCC survey cited a number of different reasons for avoiding financial advisers, including the idea that financial counseling is too expensive and that it would be embarrassing to examine their specific situation with someone else.

But the truth is that it can be possible to find a financial adviser in your price range—if you do a little bit of research. First, decide which kind of financial adviser you need. Some advisers don't charge a fee, but earn commissions based on the financial products they sell. Other advisers don't receive commissions, but charge an hourly or retainer fee.

If the thought of coming clean about your money habits is already making you blush, ease the blow by practicing money conversations beforehand. For example, confer with your partner and family members about how they're helping—or hindering—your financial progress, so you can be prepared when your adviser asks.

Most importantly, know that many other people are in the same boat. LearnVest offers financial planning services for a wide range of clients—and our planners have experience dealing with many different money mishaps.

"Personal finance can be complicated, thus there is no shame in admitting difficulty understanding how to best manage money," says NFCC spokesperson Gail Cunningham.

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