Having trouble picking a costume this Halloween? Just go where your money (or lack of) leads you.
You could be a bat or a pirate, says a SunTrust survey that found most Americans would be one or the other. Twenty-seven percent of Americans would prefer to be a bat because “they would rather sleep than think about their finances,” which another 27 percent they want to be a pirate because “their pockets are full of cash,” the survey says.
While they aren’t the most popular costumes, they do fit our current state of finances, according to the study. If neither of those are up to your standards, try a ghost: 19 percent of respondents said the ghoul best represents their unexpected expenses that make savings disappear.
You could also be a vampire, like another 19 percent of Americans prefer. “Just paying the bills sucks the life out of my paychecks,” like vampires do to their victims. Or maybe a skeleton, because your “excessive spending habits are killing” your finances. That’s what another 8 percent of us believe represents our finances.
The real scary stories: our financial fears
When it comes to what scares us the most, it doesn’t even come in the form of a ghost or vampire. In fact, it’s more likely to come in the form of old age: 23 percent of us say they wished they had saved more for retirement when they were younger.
That’s not surprising. Retirement has long been our biggest financial stressor, as many can’t contribute as much to retirement because of other looming expenses, like student loan repayment, mortgages, and paying off credit cards. Most older generations already fear they will run out of money before they die and many don’t even want to fathom living until 100 years old because they can’t believe they will have enough money to make it that long.
Other major fears include: job loss (21 percent) and medical emergencies (17 percent).
But not all our fears are equal. Millennials are the most likely to have a financial fear, 87.5 percent of them, compared to 82 percent of baby boomers. And 18 percent of young people say running up credit card balances was their biggest money scare, more than any other financial worry for the younger generation.
This is a growing trend, as millennials care less about money and more about happiness. But that doesn’t mean money isn’t an issue. Because young people would rather work for a company for happiness rather than for money, they worry more about their finances than ever. They will never stop working.
Face your financial fears
Remember that spending doesn’t make us as happy as we think it will (you can stop with that retail therapy right now!)
To fix your financial stress, you need to fix your finances. Evaluate your budget (or create one, if you don’t have one), eliminate unnecessary spending, pay off major debt and start making contributions to your 401(k) and make sure your employer matches, if eligible. Stop spending more than you earn and cut costs wherever you can. Don’t become another retiree who wishes they would’ve saved more when they were younger. There is no time like right now!