Whether you’re in it for the costumes or the candy, everyone gets spooked at some point on Halloween. But deep down, you know the trick-or-treat night frights are rooted in fun, and come November 1st, the goblin masks and mad scientist wigs will be put away for another year.
The same can’t always be said for your financial fears. In fact, what keeps most people up at night isn’t the skeletons in their wallets or the ghosts of transactions past — it’s the fear of the unknown, and what may be lurking around future corners.
But don’t let the savings scaries or debt dread leave you with money nightmares. By taking steps today, you can be prepared to handle whatever pops up in the future.
Job loss and unexpected expenses
Losing your job is a scary prospect for anyone — and for 35% of Americans, it’s their number one financial fear. Same goes for being hit with an unanticipated cost at some point — whether it’s a trip to the ER or that darn tree in the backyard that finally fell over … on your car.
Unexpected financial storms are frightening, but a rainy day fund can lessen the impact. And while the thought of socking away the recommended three to six month’s worth of expenses in an emergency savings account may seem impossible now, it’s okay to start smaller.
Expert tip: Begin by aiming to save $1,000 — even if you can only put $25 away a month. Create a savings plan, stick to it, and store your money in a high-yield savings account, like an Ally Bank Online Savings Account. Your money will grow, and so will your peace of mind.
And when it comes to saving, especially for retirement, the earlier you get started, the better. That’s because your money has more time to grow. Even if you have to pause or cut back on contributions until you get back on your feet, your savings will keep growing, thanks to compound interest (the interest you earn on original principal, plus added interest).
Knowing you have money in the bank can help make that in-between-jobs time period (or other financial emergencies) less scary.
For about a quarter of Americans, having their personal financial information stolen is their biggest nightmare. For Boomers, this number is even higher. More than half of this generation is most afraid of information theft.
Cyber criminals are savvy — and, unfortunately, they can hack into your personal accounts without you noticing. By taking preventative action to carefully protect your information, you can feel more secure.
Expert tip: When it comes to banking online, make sure to familiarize yourself with the measures your bank takes to secure your info. Take a look at Ally’s Security Center to learn about our approach to security.
Investments lose value
Investing money is inherently a risk and while it often pays off, it can be difficult to shake the worry of losing money in the long run. The fear of investments decreasing in value is especially common in the Boomer generation, many of whom may be retired or close to retiring.
Expert tip: Diversify your portfolio, or invest across multiple asset classes and industries, to help protect against market volatility.
Because various markets are affected by different influences, they typically move in different directions. A diversified portfolio helps to balance those investments that may not be doing well with others that are performing positively — meaning you won’t be as dependent on the success of any single investment.
Drop in credit score and being denied loans
For younger generations like Millennials and Gen X, credit scores can be a major concern, and the thought of being denied a loan is a frightening concept.
These two financial fears go hand-in-hand, because a low credit score can hurt your chances of receiving a loan for a car, home, or other purchase. But if your credit score isn’t in tip-top shape now, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Expert tip: Whether you’re swamped with student loans or went a little wild with a credit card back in the day, it’s important to form a debt repayment plan. Start by figuring out exactly how much you owe and how much you can afford to pay each month.
With a plan in place, make your payments on time to avoid a potential ding to your credit score (and that goes for bills, too). As you improve your credit, your chances of a receiving a loan (and potentially, a lower interest rate) will rise as well.
Ready or not, the future is coming.
We get it, the future can be freaky — especially when it comes to finances. Nobody can predict a fender bender six months from now, a hacker finding their way into your phone next year, or employer budget cuts and a subsequent layoff years from now.
But you don’t have to live in fear. Take small steps now, and you can protect yourself from the possibility of future financial pitfalls.
- What financial fears are you most worried about?
- How do you handle your money stress?
- What is the scariest financial situation you’ve faced? How did you overcome it?