Retirement and Emergencies Top List of America’s Financial Fears and Scares [MoneyRates.com]

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Americans may love Halloween, but the real fright in their lives may have something to do with dreadful financial planning, according to a new MoneyRates.com study.

Financial scares and fears are not the same kind of good, edgy fun as a creepy movie or Halloween dress-up. These are things that keep people awake at night and ruin their enjoyment of life.

When it comes to real-life scares, financial emergencies and retirement concerns may evoke more terror in Americans than anything Halloween will bring this year.

According to a new MoneyRates.com study, roughly one in five Americans says that facing a financial emergency has been their biggest financial scare to date. When it comes to future fears, funding retirement topped the list, with 36 percent of respondents saying it was their biggest financial fear for the future.    

Overall, 79 percent of respondents reported having a financial scare in the past, and 87 percent reported having financial fears about the future. Unlike the enjoyable frights that come at Halloween, these types of fears can take a real toll on Americans’ psyches, says Richard Barrington, CFA, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com.

“Financial scares and fears are not the same kind of good, edgy fun as a creepy movie or Halloween dress-up,” says Barrington. “These are things that keep people awake at night and ruin their enjoyment of life. The best solution is to be as informed and as active as you can about managing your money and preparing for the future. This shines a light on the financial unknown, which in turn reduces fear.”

Barrington says that Americans’ worries on financial emergencies – 28 percent of respondents also listed facing a financial emergency as their biggest fear for the future, making it the second most-cited option behind retirement – underline the need for Americans’ to build and maintain healthy emergency funds.

“Building an emergency fund is a fundamental step in financial planning,” says Barrington. “Having that cushion allows you to have less fear of the unexpected.”

Owing money was also a common scare cited by respondents, as 31 percent chose either facing a large credit card bill or dealing with another type of bill they couldn’t pay as their No. 1 scare.

Differences also appeared between men and women in the survey. In general, men admitted to experiencing more financial scares than women, though women said they were more frequently troubled by financial emergencies than men. Men were more likely to cite an error of their own, such as a bounced check or an unpaid bill, than a random emergency as the source of their biggest financial scare.

Near the bottom of the list, just 7 percent of respondents chose a failing investment as the source of their biggest financial scare. Barrington says that this probably shouldn’t surprise anyone, given the stock market’s performance in recent years.

“That may be a function of a five-year bull market,” Barrington says. “People soon forget how panicky they get in a bear market.”

Methodology

This survey was collected by Op4G for MoneyRates.com in June 2014. It surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults age 25 or older, with an even split between men and women.

For more details on the survey, please see the full feature on MoneyRates.com.

About MoneyRates.com

MoneyRates.com has been a leading source of information on bank rates, personal finance, savings accounts and investing since 1999. The site seeks to provide the highest rates on CDs, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts. MoneyRates.com is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: QNST), one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world. QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information they need to find, research and select the products, services and brands that best meet their needs. The company is a leader in visitor-friendly marketing practices. For more information, please visit QuinStreet.com.

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