Debt and Household And Personal Finance Are A Big Concern for Consumers
A new study released by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) indicates that among families from many different income levels spend more time worrying about money and their household and personal finances. But it seems that something about having financial worries triggers additional concerns about non-financial issues. All of this despite the fact that at least in the US, the economy is on the uptake. The survey actually shows that 48% of those they interviewed feel their financial security is better than it was a year ago.
MassMutual’s Workplace Solutions leader, Teresa Hassara, said: “Our research shows that middle-income earners express widespread worry about a range of issues, particularly politics and their personal finances.”
With record highs hitting the stock market and a fewer people reporting as unemployed it would seem that consumers would be confident and enjoying their improved household financial status, but that isn’t what is happening. When looking at the possibilities, part of the reason for the lack of confidence might be that only a small portion of middle-income families invest in the stock market.
Beyond that basic point, many of them also feel the weight of consumer and secured debt. That may be the biggest issue they face when it comes to worrying about the future. Those debt concerns start with credit card and student loan debts, often tearing away a large part of household income.
With an aging society, many families are focused on health concerns as well as if they will have enough to finance retirement. That is not helped by frequent stories in the media about when the social security system will run out of funds.
While working to pay off existing debts, live a decent life, and focus on staying healthy longer … probably recognizing that they may need to work well beyond an age when they might like to retire, is it any wonder that finances, debt, retirement, and health may begin to feel like millstones around the average consumer’s neck.
For those who have less debt and more investments, many of them are also worrying about finances. Why? Well, we have a tension-driven political atmosphere. The stock market may be at record highs, but with all the politics and extreme attitudes, no one feels particularly secure in their stock ownership continuing to grow or hold value. With those insecurities comes more and more people wanting to invest in real property instead of stocks. So the price of housing and land keeps rising.
Are there ways to lessen the fear and stress over finances? Paying off existing debt faster and putting more into savings and reasonably safe investments can help. Purchasing CDs, annuities, life insurance, and bonds are all safer investments, as well as real property if you know that market well enough. But even in this time, safe investments probably aren’t the only way to go. CDs and the like may keep your money safe, but you may also be losing money in the process if the interest income is less than the rising cost of living.
If you are in your 20s, 30s, and even 40s, more of your investments should be in things with some risk to them rather than sticking with very safe. You want maximum growth from your investment, and when you are younger, you have time for things to change, investments to turn around, or time to recover from complete loss. As you hit your 50s and 60s, moving more of your investments to safer investments is a good idea, but you may still want some that are risky but have great potential for a high yield.
The ideal situation for now and the future though will always be to get your debts paid off as quickly as you can. Create an emergency account, build some food storage – a year’s worth is ideal, but start with having at least a month’s worth of food for your family on hand. That will help get you through short-term emergencies! Now, what will be your first step to safeguard your household finances?
Can’t Miss Tips: Personal Finance Advice For Dummies
Do you get discouraged when you try to learn more about financial things? Do the concepts feel too complex? Have you stood at the bookstore in the self-help section actually considering going home with Personal Finance Advice For Dummies? Maybe you even have it on your shelf right now?
If that’s you, we have your back. The simple fact is, you’re no “dummy.” No one is born knowing anything about financial matters. So, don’t get down on yourself, and don’t think Personal Finance Advice For Dummies is the only place for you to get your information. Check this out…
1 – Start Your Financial Knowledge By Planning Ahead
You can use a simple calendar for this step. Just get all your bills and put them into the calendar based on their due date. Here’s a tip: put them in the calendar a day or two ahead of the actual due date. That way, if you make a mistake, you still have a day or so to make it right. Keep your bills out as you move on to step two.
2 – Create An Honest Budget.
Now that you have all your bills in front of you, create your budget by simply listing everything you paid for last month. Double check that with what you spent the month before. Cross-reference with your bank statements, so you’re not missing things like dinner out or your Netflix bill. Total your expenses and compare that amount with the amount of money you actually bring home. How’re you looking?
3 – Go All Cash For A Bit
Are you spending more than you bring in? You are not alone. But this is definitely not a club you want to be in. Get out now. Look at where you can cut and cut there. If you are too quick with that debit card, consider going on an all-cash diet for a month or three. Set aside cash for groceries, for gas and for fun. Don’t deviate. When the cash is gone, you are done spending. Keep that debit card in your wallet.
4 – Know Your Credit Score
Now, here we’re not advocating that you sign up for one of the “credit monitoring” services. Instead, see if any of your credit card accounts offer your FICO score for free. If not, you can get your credit report and score for a nominal fee from one or more of the reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. If you just want the report, don’t pay any fees, but if you want the score that will cost you a little bit.
5 – Look At Your Interest Rates
You may be paying too much for credit. Is your credit score better now than it was when you bought your car or got that credit card? If so, you might qualify for a lower interest rate with another company or financial institution. It doesn’t hurt too much to at least check. You could be leaving a lot of cash on the table each month.
6 – Spend Five Minutes A Day
Every day, set aside at least five minutes to review and track your financial situation. You will be surprised just how fast that checking account balance can drop day-to-day. Keeping a close eye on it can help curb impulse spending. Plus, you will know immediately if anything problematic went down.
Look at your balances as well as any major changes in your credit score or cash flow. Review even small charges. A lot of times identity thieves will try smaller transactions to see if you’re paying attention.
Make Personal Expense Management A Breeze With These 3 Easy Tools
Personal expense management is a vital life skill, and yet far too few people take it as seriously as they should … at least until they get into financial trouble. Then, all of the sudden, personal expense management becomes a high priority.
If you can relate to that, don’t beat yourself up. Just take a few minutes, right now, to consider how to make a change to protect your financial life. Take a look at these easy to use personal expense management tools and find one that works for you.
You Need A Budget (YNAB)
You Need A Budget … you really do. And this personal expense management tool will help you do just that. While there is a cost, you get a lot more for your money than the name implies. YNAB begins with budgeting, but it also offers you financial literacy classes, money management tutorials, tips, tricks and a growing group of peers that can help you stay on track.
With this one, the app is the best way to go, because you can get access your financial information whether you have internet or not. You will, occasionally, need to connect with WiFi or data, because the app will connect with your financial institution and credit accounts to update your financial situation in real time.
There is an up-front online cost with this one, to access all the tools and download the apps, but once you buy it, it’s available across all the popular platforms. And, if you don’t want to pay full freight, just wait for a sale, which they do often. Look at you, already making good financial decisions!
This personal expense management tool has a lot going for it. First, and foremost, it’s free. Yes, free. And, it’s web-based, so you can access it just about anywhere. Plus, it’s pretty easy to use. Just plug in all your banking information, investment funds, credit cards and any other financial account you may have; and Mint will help you get a strong and accurate picture of your true financial situation.
You can also get a clear and simple picture of how you’re doing with various expenses. Splurge too much on eating out or entertainment this month? Did your utility bill skyrocket for some reason? Mint will keep you up to date and informed.
Mint hits it out of the park with its mobile app, that allows you to interact with your finances on the go, quickly and easily.
There are always people out there looking for open source software to use. If that’s you, then GnuCash might be the personal expense management tool for you. This is a solid, free alternative for financial tracking and management.
GnuCash is also a helpful tool for people who need a little assistance keeping it between the lines financially. No transaction will be allowed without first debiting from another account, so you know your books are always balanced. In addition, the program offers a feature that will allow you to schedule recurring payments for certain bills, as well as a stellar reporting function that allows you to create financial reports and graphs so you can better understand your money and where it’s going.
As with most open source software, GnuCash is completely cross-platform compatible with Linux, OS X, Solaris, BSD, and, yes, Windows.
So, which of these personal expense management tools do you think will work for you? Have any of them already helped you get on better financial footing?