Scary Financial Facts

Because There's Just Not Enough to Frighten Us This Halloween

Scary Financial Facts
October 26, 2018

Are you ready for some Halloween horror stories? Forget Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Michael Myers – we've got something really scary for you. Those three famous horror movie characters can't compete with these three real-life financial horrors.

The Debt's Coming from Inside the House! Get Out Now! – America's national debt has topped a staggering $21.6 trillion – but your main concern is your own household debt. Unfortunately, America's household finances aren't in much better shape.

According to the New York Federal Reserve's Q2 2018 Household Debt and Credit Report, aggregate household debt is $13.29 trillion – the highest collective debt ever. Household debt has been rising for the last sixteen quarters. Outstanding student loans alone have topped $1.5 trillion. Revolving debt – mostly credit card debt – hit $1.03 trillion.

Out-of-control spending can crush your finances. To prevent spending binges, make a realistic budget and stick to it. If you're attempting to reduce existing debt, budgeting is even more important – you must have a surplus at the end of the month to pay down debt. If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, join MoneyTips and use our free Debt Optimizer tool.

Sinking In Interest Charges – Beware the interest rates that eat your income. They sneak up on you, waiting until you're ready to buy a home or put extra charges on your credit card – and then they attack. Your income is slowly consumed by interest charges, leaving you nothing to live on. If only you had kept your credit score high...

The fiends at the Federal Reserve have been slowly piling on 0.25% rate hikes – three in 2017 and three in 2018 to reach 2%-2.25% with one more hike expected before the year is out. They plan to raise rates three more times in 2019. Each rate hike eventually gets passed on to you. Can you keep your head above water, or will higher rates push you under?

Fight off increasing interest rates by paying off all bills on time and controlling your spending. Never charge more than you can afford to pay off each month. You won't have to worry about credit card interest if you don't carry a balance – and your higher credit will qualify for better loan/mortgage rates.

The Incredible Shrinking Credit Score – Who could be at the door this Halloween? Surprise, it's you – or an identity thief pretending to be you, buying a hundred smartphones with a fraudulent account or twenty laptop computers on your MasterCard. If you don't check your credit report regularly, you may not see the danger until it shows up as overdue bills and a ruined credit score. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.

A 2018 Harris Poll survey found that nearly sixty million Americans have been affected by some form of identity theft – around 18% of the U.S. population. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, approximately 16.7 million individuals were identity theft victims in 2017 alone, with an average loss of just over $1,000.

Whether they're fraud alerts, credit freezes, or credit monitoring services, find a protection strategy that works for you – and use common sense protections like strong passwords, anti-virus software, and shredding of documents before disposal.

You may not see any trick-or-treaters dressed as identity thieves or high interest rates (if you do, please give them extra treats for imagination). However, those financial monsters are scary because they're real – and they cause real financial damage.

Take preventative action and you can avoid these horrors, or at least minimize them. Don't be the financial equivalent of horror movie teens that wander out into the woods alone at night looking for their missing friends. You know how that works out for them.

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Brittany | 10.26.16 @ 15:47
This is definitely interesting and rather worrisome in some areas. Economy stuff is always scary at times.
Amanda | 10.26.16 @ 15:48
Crazy scary facts when it's down in front of you. Numbers don't lie.
Erin | 10.26.16 @ 15:49
I keep hearing that the economy is doing great or is absolutely in the gutter (depending on who is running for which office). It looks like, from a variety of articles on this site, that the truth is somewhere in between. It seems that we have a lot of work to do yet, and the next election will either give us more of the same, plodding growth or plunge us into more turmoil. Either way, it doesn't look to be a spectacular four years for the economy.
Zanna | 10.26.16 @ 17:18
Student loan debt is a huge concern, and the huge fluctuations in medical coverage costs worry me. It's impossible for people to plan well when nothing seems to stay steady enough to make a budget. I hope it's mainly media hype and things will calm down after the election.
Patricia | 10.26.16 @ 18:12
Debt is scary no matter what time of year it is! I know we have kept the number of Credit Cards we have low, and have said no once the credit limit far exceeded what we would ever want to have in debt at any given time. But getting into debt is easy.. I feel like while the economy may not be the greatest right now, I definitely feel it has gotten better than it was. But the seeing these numbers it is still too low for comfort!
Chrisitna | 10.26.16 @ 18:42
No good news in the news today... and not much hope for a change, regardless of who gets elected. Seems impossible to make any plans for the future when there's no stability.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 12.05.20 @ 14:42