More Americans Are Afraid Than Ever Before

Americans are afraid. I’ve been writing it for weeks, if not months. Last week, we looked at the phenomena of negative interest rates—loser bonds—whose investors are very, very afraid and are guaranteed to only lose a little.

This week, let’s look at some of the fears that are causing this insanity. In a fascinating info-graphic, Chapman University sums up their annual survey. (1)

The top fears include government corruption, not having enough money for the future, high medical costs, illness and death. Plus, five different concerns about the environment made the top 10 fear list.

Graph 1

In each of these areas, more than half of us said we were afraid. And strikingly, these fears are shared by many more people than compared to the past. More of us are more afraid about more things than we have been before. (2)

Fear produces panic in the markets, causing once-in-a-lifetime negative interest rates. Fear of the economy is not at the top of the list. It’s high—14th—shared by almost half of us. When we are scared, our defense systems are up and our logical brains shut down. Forty percent of Americans are also afraid of another 20 terrible things. Check them out. Which are you afraid of?

Graph 2

We are scared about more things than ever before! Worse still, can we control any one of them? They are largely—if not entirely—out of our control.

Someone you know, who shows you their fear, is giving you a gift. Thank them for sharing. Listening, understanding, faith, these are the best response. You might be able to help them, without doing anything at all.

Plus, there is always something we can do. Even if it’s small, we can take action to make at least something better. Your friend could call her planner. Just like you may call us to check in. We will see if your plan is on track or if we need to change anything. Sometimes a conversation about financial planning—just a conversation—makes it easier to face down the other threats. We can stress test your plan. We’ll probably find that you’ll be OK. We’ll listen. Say thank you. And maybe laugh a little too.

Where would you be without a plan? You might—after all—feel that you actually have to respond to the fear--outside our control—and make a terrible mistake. Better to call us instead.

References:

(1) https://www.chapman.edu/wilkinson/research-centers/babbie-center/_files/fear-2018/2018-Fear-Campaign-Summary.pdf

(2) https://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2018/10/16/americas-top-fears-2018/

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