Living Below Your Means
Money and Fear

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By 4inthefamily
March 17, 2004

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I talked with one of my sisters on the phone last night for quite a while. She has been thinking about starting a contribution to her 401(k) account. This would be a huge step for her in the right direction in my opinion. I asked her what her hesitancy was and she said, "I hate to save money when I don't know if I am even going to be around when it comes time to use it." Her reasoning was that if she spent her money today at least she would certainly be able to derive pleasure out of it, but saving it for later had no guarantee.

I think there are a lot of fears when it comes to money. My sister is afraid she will never be able to spend what she has earned if she doesn't do it right away. I think that I am afraid of being in a situation where I will not have enough for my basic needs. My grandfather, who is quite wealthy, even admitted once that he is afraid of losing what he has. I think we all have fears.

What I tried to explain to my sister is that by being prepared, money fears can be minimized. With time, she would not even notice the small amount going to her 401(k) was gone. I suggested starting with 1% or 2% and then increasing it only when she got a raise. I told her that what I felt would be even scarier is getting to 55 or 60 and realizing that you had nothing to retire on especially if Social Security runs into issues.

I had all of these thoughts running through my head when I started reading the credit card board this afternoon. I noticed the different ways that people used to describe their debt situations. One person said, "I am terrified." Another person said, "I am stressed beyond belief." Another term I read was "scared spitless." These are pretty strong emotions.

What I have concluded is that there will always be fears associated with money, debt, and saving. There is so much we can't control. On the other hand, there is a lot we can control and I think shifting our thoughts to what we can control gives us the power to start conquering our fears.


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