Economy worries keeping you awake?

by

Published: June 26,2011

Tags: MBJ column, Mind Over Money, Nancy Anderson

What keeps you up at night? For many of us, sleepless nights are the result of financial worries.

A new Gallup poll asked Americans to rate those financial woes. At the bottom of the list is the worry about paying our credit card bill. Since 2008 many have cut down and cut up credit cards, reigning in those balances. In the last few months, average credit balances have begun to creep back up. I am always preaching the evils of consumer debt.

Based on this poll, I don’t think anyone is listening. Hey, as long as we can make the minimum payment, what is the problem?

We’re also not worried about covering our mortgage. All I hear on the news is foreclosure, foreclosure, foreclosure, but most people are managing just fine. We’re a bit more worried about paying our regular monthly bills. In fact, we’re more worried about that than covering Junior’s college education. I guess that’s because the light bill has to be paid in 10 days, while Junior won’t head to college for another 10 years.

So what are the top three financial worries for Americans? The first is not having enough money for retirement. Based on average contribution rates of about 8 percent (including employer match), we should be worried! Anything less than 20 percent is probably not going to cut it. Next on our list of worries is concern about paying for a healthcare crisis. Given our declining benefits and rising costs, this is a legitimate worry.

Below this, at number three on the list, above regular bills and our children’s education, is the worry that we won’t be able to maintain our standard of living. What!?! We’re more concerned about keeping up with the Jones than with paying our bills and preparing for college for our children.

It seems to me that if we could move this worry to the bottom of the list, everything else would take care of itself. Forget the fancy cars, the brand name fashions and the outrageous trips. Choose to live at a lower standard, and voila! No more sleepless nights!

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