If your current financial outlook is “double, double, toil and trouble,” it’s time to take control and banish these six scary threats to your finances.
1. Spending with no budget:
A Gallup poll found that less than a third of Americans prepared detailed household budgets. It’s almost impossible to make good financial decisions without knowing how much cash is coming in and going out each month. A budget helps you identify potential spending cuts and savings opportunities — eating out less could help you save more for retirement, for example. An extra $100 monthly in your retirement adds up!
2. Identity theft:
Ghouls are out to steal your identity, using it to commit credit card fraud, loan fraud and other scary crimes. More than 15 million Americans had their identities stolen in 2016. Protect against identity theft by shredding documents such as receipts, credit card offers, bank statements and other papers that contain your personal information; using strong passwords for all credit card companies, banks and other online accounts; and keeping your Social Security number secure. For more tips on safeguarding your identity, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
3. Lack of emergency funds:
Could you cover unexpected expenses like medical bills or car repairs? Nearly a quarter of Americans have no money stashed in an emergency savings account and just 31 percent have enough to cover six-plus months of expenses — the amount experts consider an ideal financial cushion — according to a Bankrate survey. To build your emergency fund, set (and stick to) a budget, set monthly savings goals and look for ways to boost your income through a second job or selling unwanted items.
4. Too much debt:
Is your credit card bill frightening? The average household has credit card balances topping $16,425, according to NerdWallet. Add in debt from mortgages, car loans and student loans and achieving debt-free status can feel impossible. Create a plan to pay off debt. Cut back on spending and continue making minimum monthly payments on all of your balances while focusing on paying off high interest rate debts (like credit cards) first.
5. Poor credit score:
FICO scores range from 300 to 850: The higher your score, the better your credit. A poor credit score (under 619) could lead to rejections on loan applications (or higher interest rates on approved loans) — it could even affect your ability to rent an apartment or qualify for a job. Paying your bills on time, reducing existing debt and steering clear of new debt can help improve your credit score.
6. Lack of life insurance coverage:
Life insurance protects your loved ones, providing them with the resources to cover funeral costs, debts, estate taxes and other expenses upon your death. The amount of life insurance you need depends on your financial situation and number of dependents but one survey found 25 percent of Americans with policies believed they needed more coverage. Talk to your Farm Bureau agent about whether your current life insurance coverage is adequate.
Paying attention to these threats can help make your financial future less scary. Still scared? Your Farm Bureau agent is here to assist you with insurance and related questions.