Northwestern Mutual’s 2015 Planning and Progress Study surveyed over 2,000 Americans in January to gauge how they feel about their money.
One of the most interesting insights it uncovered is that more Americans fear unplanned financial emergencies and the inability to afford to retire comfortably more than anything else to do with their money:
What’s the big deal about that?
Retiring and facing an unplanned financial emergency are things that happen to nearly everyone. They’re events that can be foreseen and planned for, in the form of an emergency fund or a retirement account.
If you keep reading beyond the two greatest fears, the third and fourth-greatest are incredibly similar to the leaders: “unplanned medical expenses due to an illness” and “outliving my retirement savings.” Out of the top five fears, four are about emergencies and retirement.
While the idea of being unable to afford your future is undoubtedly scary, there’s another way to look at this information: It’s good news!
No one can predict the future — maybe you’ll be laid off and have to retire earlier than planned, maybe your emergency will take the form of a lost job or a stock market dive — but it’s pretty safe to assume that most people will, at some point, either have a financial emergency or bow out of the workforce. Or both.
There’s a safety in knowing that you have the power to neutralise your fears. You have the power to open a retirement account early and take advantage of compound interest; you have the power to eliminate your debt and put that money into savings instead; you have the power to build your emergency fund to cover months, if not years, of living expenses.
If you know what scares you, you can face it head-on.