I can't spare you from dying, but I can help you with something you fear even more.
What do Americans fear more than being dead? Being dead broke.
A morbid poll by pharmaceutical company Pfizer asked more than 2,000 adults about their fears of getting old. Interestingly, only 10 percent were scared of dying, while 12 percent most feared “running out of money.”
The biggest fear was “decline in physical ability” at 23 percent. This makes perfect sense to me. Both losses — of money and mobility — mean independent-minded Americans are no longer in control of their lives. To us, that’s a fate worse than death.
Overcoming our fears
For some reason, Americans seem to focus more on their physical health than their financial health.
Nearly half of all Americans report they exercise “at least 30 minutes three times per week.” (The exact number is 49.6 percent, according to WebMD.)
Compare that to a recent survey by the website GoBankingRates, which reported, “73 percent of Americans can’t save any money.”
That’s right, of the 3,000 adults in this survey, 28.5 percent had less than $1,000 in their savings account, and 44.5 percent didn’t even have a savings account.
I’ve spent my entire career, almost three decades, trying to help Americans get out of debt and stay out. These numbers show I still have a lot of work to do. So I’ve decided to try a different approach.
Exercising your money
Since Americans seem to work on their physical health more than their fiscal health, I’d like you to consider a simple solution to both: Work out regularly.
If you go to the gym three days a week, you should check your spending at least once a week. I’d also suggest you work out your money muscles. You can read our Step-by-Step Guide to Get out of Debt, check out our booklet on Avoiding Foreclosure, and figure out a very important number with our Debt-To-Income Ratio Calculator.
While all of these Debt.com resources are free, I don’t want to appear to be promoting only my own resources. While the federal government isn’t known for its clear communication skills, these three sites are excellent and educational…
Regardless of where you go, unlike fitness centers that charge fees, you can get free financial education from many reputable places. If you don’t avail yourself of Debt.com, do it somewhere.
Howard Dvorkin is a CPA and chairman of Debt.com, an educational resource for those who want to conquer all forms of debt in their lives.