A new poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) reveals that 92% of respondents have a fear of running out of money.

The causes of the fear vary, with the majority (64%) fearing they will not have enough money to pay each month’s bills. Other causes include the fear of not having enough money to comfortably retire (14%), to satisfy unplanned expenses (11%) or pay for their children’s education (3%). Only 8% of respondents indicated they do not have the fear of running out of money.

The poll was conducted via the NFCC's website during September and was answered by 1,391 people.

"The focus on immediate needs, as opposed to future ones such as retirement, reflects the uncomfortable financial situation in which many Americans live month after month," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokesperson. "Entering the holiday shopping season already struggling to meet existing debt obligations will only add more pressure on the family."

The NFCC listed several recommendations to help consumers including:

  • Consider living on cash only. People who pay with cash typically save 20% over their previous spending on plastic.

  • Pretend that any raise, bonus, birthday money or other windfall money never happened and instead direct it toward savings. Aim to build up the rainy day fund to equal one month’s salary, as this should be sufficient for most short-term emergencies.

  • Decrease debt. Carrying debt over from month-to-month results in paying interest on top of interest, making the debt even more difficult to eliminate.

  • Write down and total the existing debt and associated interest paid each month. The totals may be surprising but will hopefully spur action.

  • Track spending. Have everyone in the family who spends money write down their spending for 30 days.  It is critical to include incidental spending, as small leaks can add up to be big problems. At the end of the period, decide how the money should be spent moving forward. Make necessary cuts and allocate the money toward the categories that the family decides are most important. 

  • Set goals. Make a list of short-term goals for the next 12 months. Make a separate list of long-term goals. Include dates and dollar amounts with each goal and decide which can realistically be met. Knowing the objective, timing and financial commitment necessary to meet the goal will bring a sense of purpose to overall spending decisions.

    "Fear and worry can impact more than a person’s finances. People owe it to themselves and their family to find solutions to financial concerns before they negatively impact other areas of their life," says Cunningham.

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