There are few amongst us who have not experienced some form of financial uncertainty at some point. Money has been an issue in almost everyone’s lives in some form or another. Solving the problem is not always easy if you are unsure of how to define the issue in the first place, or if you are embarrassed about seeking help. Based on recent surveys and stat collection, below are the most common money problems facing Americans today.
Debt is one of the biggest financial concerns for Americans, with one study citing that 20% of the population consider debt accumulation their biggest financial regret. The average household has a credit card debt of over $7,000 – not to mention mortgages, car loans and student loans. As much as 8% of Americans list student loans as their biggest financial stress. Currently, Americans’ debts are at a record high. Personal finance experts will often suggest listing your different debts from biggest to smallest, regardless of interest rate. Disperse your money equally amongst the debts which should soon result in the smaller ones getting paid off while you also feel that the larger ones are at least being tackled in some quantity.
Buying a house
While there may have been a time when real estate was considered a financially wise investment, today it is regarded more as a money problem. The financial drain is not just the agency fees, mortgage, insurance and utilities – a whole bunch of unexpected costs come with owning a house. Simple maintenance and renovation can cost several hundreds of dollars each month, and you never know when the oven, heater or plumbing is going to cause costly problems. Foreclosure is a frightening prospect and several million Americans suffer it each year. If you’re worried about your ability to pay mortgage, call a non-profit housing counsellor to see what options are available to you.
It is harder than ever before in America to secure a job with decent pay and benefits. Even while the economy may be growing, the number of vacancies narrow and those jobs that are left often require very specific experience. Job hunting is a major financial concern for millions of Americans who, even when employed, do not earn enough to cover basic living costs. Nancy Collamer, a financial expert, has one suggestion for the unemployed;
“You need to figure out what it is that you want to do and are most qualified to do, then identify employers and companies where there appears to be some level of growth or opportunity and identify ways to network your way into the company.”
She suggests Linkedin as a good place to start. While temp work is often unpaid and therefore not an option for those in desperate need of money, this type of work could otherwise be a good way to prove yourself to a company and be the first name that comes to their mind when a permanent position needs filling.
An estimated 23 million Americans are believed to be addicted to alcohol and other drugs including illegal substances. That does not include the millions more who are regular smokers. Besides being terrible from a health perspective, these addictions are expensive. Of course, drugs aren’t the only expensive addiction Americans can suffer from. Compulsive eating, compulsive shopping and gambling will all drain financial resources if the suffered does not take charge of his or her addiction. The best way to go about recovering from addiction is reaching out for help. Tell your friends and family, phone a helpline or visit your local medical centre for more information on how to proceed.
If you don’t consider yourself as addicted, but know you have a weakness for shopping or gambling, then simply make changes to your lifestyle that will help you enjoy these activities without having to spend too much money. For example, instead of shopping at high end stores, switch to second hand boutiques. A recent study by FinanceSqaure also showed that frequent gamblers save on average $300 per month by switching from playing at live casinos to online based freeroll poker rooms.
While seeking medical help in overcoming an addiction may save money, the bills that come with health care ironically present a costly problem of their own. The Atlantic reports that, even with insurance, most Americans can’t afford their healthcare. Helanie Olen also points out that;
“Determining what counts as a medical expense is difficult. It’s not simply doctor bills. In addition to the not-covered deductibles, there is transportation to and from medical appointments, parking fees at many hospitals, and often childcare expenses while parents are in treatment or at appointments.”
MarketWatch published a post on handling surprise medical bills, with tips on how to choose the right health plan and dispute medical bills when warranted.
Living by a budget and controlling spending takes time and dedication – it’s no wonder that most busy Americans simply don’t bother with it. Unfortunately, the resulting excess expenditure that ensues has a serious impact on those with less cash to splash. An effective, accurate and strictly adhered by budget is absolutely necessary for preventing general overspending. Identify what monthly costs are essential (which foods and household items, for example) and do price comparisons to see if you can find cheaper alternatives for the same product or service. Money should always be set aside for unexpected costs, and the budget should be reviewed once every three months.
The best thing you can do if you are struggling from one of these common money problems is to seek out free financial advice. Check out Huffington Post’s list of financial planning websites for those in need of fast and cheap advice.