This Friday the 13th, it's not broken mirrors or black cats that are spooking us all. Americans' concerns are much more global in scale, according to Chapman University's annual Survey of American Fears.
What's surprising (or not) is that smack dab in the middle of the political and ecological crises that lay heavy on people's minds are worries about financial security. According to the poll of more than 1,200 adults, half of respondents say they are afraid of not having enough money for the future. Here are the 10 things freaking out the country right now.
1. Corrupt government officials (74%)
2. American health care act/Trumpcare (55%)
3. Pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes (53%)
4. Pollution of drinking water (50%)
5. Not having enough money for the future (50%)
6. High medical bills (48%)
7. The U.S. being involved in another world war (48%)
8. Global warming and climate change (48%)
9. North Korea using weapons (48%)
10. Air pollution (45%)
Scary, huh? Well, here's the silver lining: You can have a direct impact on the money anxieties that plague you. Here are some simple steps to help you conquer those financial fears.
- Start With a Budget. First things first: How much do you have coming in, and how much do you have going out? Before you start funneling your paycheck anywhere, you first have to know what you're working with. Our One-Number Strategy can help set up a budgeting framework for you.
- Prioritize Your Goals. A budget isn't simply about having enough to pay the bills now. It's also about setting aside money for the future stuff. That could be a vacation, a new home and — definitely — retirement. Even if you're funneling a small portion of your paycheck toward any of these goals, something is better than nothing because compound interest helps your money grow.
- Keep an Emergency Fund I know what you're thinking — why keep cash set aside for a rainy day when I could be doing other non-emergency things with that money? Here's why: An emergency fund is what helps keep you from going into debt when disaster strikes. The last time your car went kaput, you probably put that new transmission on a credit card (which then took months to pay off), right? Or remember that emergency room trip you took when you sprained an ankle during a pickup game? You probably weren't prepared for the hospital bill, which also shrunk your new-car fund.
See, financial preparedness doesn't have to be such a scary proposition. A little bit of prep now can go a long way later.