What’s your biggest money fear?

thA whole lot of U.S. residents are scared of outliving their money. According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 57 percent of clients called it their biggest money fear.

That doesn’t surprise me. Although nearly 8 in 10 full-time workers have some money for retirement, 28 percent of them report that the total value of household savings and investments is less than $1,000 (not including primary residence and defined benefit plans).

Certainly I’ve had my own share of bag-lady dreams, so this topic really resonated when I researched it for a NerdWallet article called “7 steps to deal with our No. 1 money fear.”

Funding a retirement plan can seem daunting, but it’s not something you can put off. Even if your future is decades away, your new best friend compound interest is here right now.


That’s just one of the articles I’ve done recently for NerdWallet. Allow me to point out a few more:

What to do if you lose your car insurance.” Nobody likes a break-up letter, but sometimes it really isn’t you – it’s your insurance company. The piece talks about what to do if you’re “non-renewed” or if you’re dropped for cause (e.g., a DUI).

Driving tips for an El Niño winter.” You learn the most useful stuff as a freelance writer. With this one it was the fact that you shouldn’t use cruise control on wet, snowy or icy roads. Why does no one ever tell me these things?

What to do if your car gets broken into.” Yet another thing I learned on the job: Devices exist that can bypass a keyless entry system. Go ahead and lock the door – one of those sneaky little “scanner boxes” will pop it open in seconds. Grrrr.

How car insurance can protect your retirement.” And the scariest thing of all that I learned? Laws in seven states protect a traditional but not a Roth IRA from court judgments. (Those states are Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana and West Virginia.) In the case of a serious at-fault accident, you could lose a big chunk of your retirement savings.

Why parents should urge their teens to get their driver’s licenses.” When I was 17 I couldn’t wait to get that little slip of paper.* Things are different now, with a startling 30 percent of teens who are either nervous about driving or simply not interested. Wow. But a couple of good reasons exist to get Junior or Sister licensed before they hit 18.

High-tech ways to spy on your teen driver.” Once that kid gets his or her license, you can still sit in the virtual passenger seat. No texting, no loud music, no driving past a certain boundary – teens can’t get away with nothin’ these days.

Why you need life insurance, even if you think you can’t afford it.” Let me put it this way: If you’re living close to the bone or paycheck-to-paycheck right now, what would happen to your household if one of its incomes went away? (This is a topic about which I feel quite strongly; see “Why I have life insurance.”)


More places I’ve been

Get Rich Slowly has also published several pieces:

11 frugal ways to prepare for an emergency.” Ready for that ice storm, or earthquake, or blizzard, or whatever it is that happens in your part of the world? We’re supposed to be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days when the fertilizer hits the ventilator. My article tells you how to do it on a budget.

35 tips for packing a lunch your kid will eat.” Adults take note: Plenty of advice in here for grownup lunchbags, too.

19 tips for building your own food bank.” This is not an emergency stash, but rather a creative approach toward building a pantry full of staples to keep food bearable all year long.

37 ways to keep Fido happy, healthy on a budget.” Repeat after me: There is no such thing as a free puppy/kitten. Our furry friends deserve decent care but it can get darned expensive. In this article I offer a bunch of frugal hacks/coping mechanisms so you can provide proper food, accessories and medical treatment without breaking the bank.

The Money & Media Podcast interviewed me on Episode 14. (It should have been Episode 13 but apparently host Joe Saul-Sehy is superstitious.) I come in at just under minute eight, and talk about best practices for the Financial Blogger Conference. Some of these might work for other conferences, too.

Finally, I’ve been posting weekly on my Write A Blog People Will Read course website’s blog. Here are a few that have made me happy lately:

Will Wheaton hits ‘reset’” (this post includes a 40%-off code for the writing course)

Why you need a stroke file

How to prevent typos

Giving editors what they want

9 writing sins to avoid” (this one was a guest post from my daughter, Abigail Perry, who blogs at I Pick Up Pennies)

*Yep, it was a slip of paper – no photo in those days. Gee, I’m old.

Related reading:

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  1. You have been busy-and that is a good thing!

  2. My biggest money fear nowadays is litigation, especially that forced on me by another. Lawyers are more costly than most other expenses. Squabbles over inheritance, over property, or a frivolous suit brought by someone hoping to cash in on my car or home insurance. A litigious society is one that essentially slowly tears itself apart. My defense is insurance, and keeping as low a profile as possible. It doesn’t keep me up at night, but I do wonder about the risk at times.

    • With how eager people are to yell “I’m gonna sue you!” over even the smallest things nowadays, I’m definitely with you when it comes to being afraid of litigation.

  3. Does a single person with no dependents have any use for life insurance, especially if there is likely to be an estate on his/her demise that could cover burial costs?

    • Donna Freedman

      In my opinion: Nope, not really. You could just tell the executor that the funeral costs should be covered from your estate, then direct the rest of the money any way you liked.

  4. Susan is right, Donna. You have been busy. Now I’ll be busy trying to read it all. Amber, I am with you. Not only do I fear not having enough for retirement but my immediate fear is a financial emergency. We have plenty of money saved up but I am very underemployed right now (about 12 hours a week max). Thank goodness my DH has a decent job.

  5. Even though money is always tight here, I rarely eat food that is full price. Today, I ten heads of celery at $0.48 each. I need to quit reading and get in the kitchen and dehydrate it all.

  6. Aunt Leesie

    A lot of great tips/writing, but after reading the piece on getting teens to drive & insured, most kids now are opting to wait because the *cost* of insurance for teens is so outrageously high. Especially for males. I called around when that 16 yr. old time approached, and the quotes I got were jaw dropping. To insure one teen son driving one vehicle was going to cost more than the total combined of DH and me driving three vehicles. DS1 opted to wait until he was in his 20’s and it was a very wise decision. He recently graduated with an MBA and NO student loan debt (worked his way through college), and that wouldn’t have been possible if he’d been paying thousands a year for car insurance. Nor could we have footed the bill. Just sayin’.

    • Aunt Leesie

      Life insurance is one of the many benefits provided to DS1 with his new job at B of A. 🙂 And he’s had a small investment account for years that he’ll now convert to a retirement account. We’ve got an in-home “food bank”, as you suggested in another of your recent pieces. You’ve been a busy gal. Great tips!

    • Donna Freedman

      The cost of driving was cited in the study, but that 30 percent figure was just about teens not being interested or not feeling ready to drive.

      The latter still blows my mind: We couldn’t wait to drive.

  7. Mysticaltyger

    My biggest fear is actually increasing government deficits and the ever increasing costs of Social Security & Medicare as the number of retirees increases. In general, I really worry a lot about medical costs. The way medicine is done in the U.S…we mix together crony capitalism (instead of true free market capitalism) and socialism. The results are predictably terrible. Mix in the typical unhealthy American lifestyle, and I wonder if we will ever get these costs under control.

  8. Yay! Lots of Donna Freedman to read, thank you for the links!

    We’re “behind” on retirement savings, but we’re making steady progress and it’s not my biggest fear (yet, haha!)

    What I do fear is the possibility of a loved one becoming incapacitated, and then not being able to have adequate care. We’re well-insured, but the rest of our family members aren’t. Many of them have poor health insurance coverage if they have it at all, and none of our elders have long-term care insurance. I don’t believe that any of our siblings with minor children at home have wills or life insurance either, so God forbid the worst happens, care and custody could become a real mess.

    We happily discuss all that stuff with folks when they’re up for it, and meanwhile, all we can do is work toward keeping ourselves from becoming a burden, and stay as financially agile as possible in order to respond our best should the need arise.

    • Donna Freedman

      I understand your worry about family members. They should at least get the wills thing in order. Try this scare tactic: “You need to do this! That is, unless you want [name of family member whose parenting skills they abhor] petitioning to raise your kids.”

      A whole lot of people are in the uninsured/underinsured category. Right now I’ve got meh-type insurance, i.e., one with a high deductible. Of course, never being sick/injured enough to meet the deductible wouldn’t be a bad problem to have.

  9. Holy mackerel, woman! Do you EVER stop writing? I’ll bet you’re writing an article in another window as you’re reading these comments… 😉

  10. Biggest fear? The “unknown” ….most prominently health care and health insurance. My health insurance premium just went up 25% with very few claims. It doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to figure out this can’t continue. Add to this my plan is “grand fathered” and no longer available to new members and will eventually be phased out or so expensive that one can not afford the premium. I recently met with a “navigator” for the area “health care market place”. Reasonably certain that I wasted 1.5 hours of my life….as the navigator was unsure if I qualified for coverage…a subsidy….and at one point claimed Medicaid was my only option….and then back tracked and re-scheduled for ANOTHER appointment. At times I felt I knew more about the process than the navigator. Keep in mind I brought everything that was needed and could get no clear concise picture. Uncertainty is not a good thing in health care. Your thoughts and revelations?

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