That’s Scary — 75 Million Describe Their Finances as a “Horror Show”

With Halloween just a couple of days away, the free credit score site WalletHub has released a new survey exploring the scary side of personal finance. Among the findings headlining this latest report is that 75 million Americans would describe their finances as a “horror show.” Considering that the U.S. adult population is estimated to be around 252 million as of 2017, this figure amounts to nearly 30%. So what’s causing so financial fear?

First, in terms of what issues stress respondents out the most, “money” topped the list with 29%, beating out “politics” and “health” at 25% and 17% respectively. Among the aspects of money that worried people most, 23% said their biggest financial fear was covering an unplanned emergency. Meanwhile 22% said they worried about not having enough retirement savings. Then, in a somewhat surprising third-place finish was “fraud” at 20%, narrowly topping “job loss” as a source of fiscal fear. Zooming out from personal finance, two-thirds of those surveyed suggested they believe that the U.S. economy will grow “scarier” within the next year as 71% said the same of interest rates.

Another interesting aspect of the WalletHub survey involves credit cards. Continuing the Halloween theme, the site asked respondents whether they’d consider credit cards to be more “tricks” or “treat.” A majority opted for the former with 54% saying as much. As for what aspects of credit cards consumers found to be the most horrifying, the top response was interest rates along with other fees (36%), followed by fraud (27%), and overspending (20%). Similarly 40% of those surveyed said they feared that they used their credit card too much.

Looking at the holiday itself, one shocking stat found that 21 million Americans would be okay with going into debt to purchase a Halloween costume. On the other hand, 76% of people surveyed said they’d be spending less than $50 on Halloween this year. Of Halloween holiday spending, 50% is expected to go toward buying candy for trick or treaters followed by 23% going to food and alcohol. That leaves 14% for costumes, 9% for decorations, and 4% for Halloween-themed event or party tickets.

While WalletHub’s latest survey brings some interesting figures to the forefront and adds a bit of levity to otherwise serious topics, it should be noted that the findings are extrapolated from a survey of just 500 people. Therefore some of these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt — or perhaps a handful of sugar given the holiday at hand. In any case, the study does once again highlight the necessity for emergency funds as well as the need for Americans to be saving for retirement as soon as possible. Of course it also serves as a reminder that credit cards can be either friend or foe depending on how you use them. Hopefully more consumers can learn these lessons and make 2019 less of a “horror show” when it comes to their finances.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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