Phobias can range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and everyone has their own main fear. Some consistently crop up — public speaking, say, or heights — while others are a little rarer (lepidopterophobia: the fear of butterflies).
Regardless of individual fears, there's one that seems to appear across the board: finances. In fact, it turns out many Americans find matters of the wallet scarier than most common fears.
GOBankingRates conducted a poll asking respondents to select their top three fears from a list of 10. While two personal fears, losing a family member and being alone for the rest of one's life, took the lead, financial fears made up 66 percent of the responses.
GOBankingRates asked respondents to select their three biggest fears out of a list of ten options. Four options pertained to money fears — always living paycheck to paycheck; falling into serious debt; becoming homeless and losing a job. The remaining six were common, non-financial fears: losing a family member; being alone for the rest of one's life; being the victim of a horrible crime; snakes, spiders and other creepy crawly things; dying; and gaining weight.
The most common response was losing a family member, at 17 percent of respondents, followed by being alone for life, at 12 percent.
A Breakdown of Financial Fears
Segmenting out financial fears: Always living paycheck to paycheck came in third overall; it was also the top money fear, with 11 percent of respondents. Falling into serious debt was chosen by 10 percent of respondents, as was becoming homeless. All three of these financial fears took precedence over a fear of death, which came in at just 9 percent.
What Is Your Biggest Financial Fear?
GOBankingRates asked respondents to select their top fear about money. The responses were as follows: 27 percent chose being unemployed, 26 percent chose never getting out of debt, 16 percent chose having their identities stolen, 15 percent chose losing their homes, 13 percent chose never being able to retire and 4 percent chose losing their savings in the stock market. (Due to rounding, these figures don't add up to 100 percent.)
Looking at the ages of our respondents, 18- to 24-year-olds most often selected being unemployed, at 30 percent. This group was the second most likely to choose never being able to get out of debt, at 26 percent, whereas respondents age 45 and up were most likely to select this option.
Which Financial Task Do You Dread Most?
Respondents most dreaded paying their bills, at 30 percent, followed by asking people to pay them back, at 25 percent. Doing taxes came in third place at 22 percent, checking a bank statement followed, at 10 percent, while calling customer service at a financial institution and going to the bank came in at 9 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
How Often Do You Worry About Money?
We had respondents quantify how often they worry about money. Nearly one in three respondents, 31 percent, answered that they worry about money "all the time." Others only worried about money during select periods, like when they're planning for the future, at 24 percent, when faced with a big financial decision, at 19 percent, or near the end of the month or pay period, at 11 percent.
Just 14 percent of respondents said they never worry about money.
How Do People’s Fears Break Down?
Fears about money made up two-thirds of all responses, at 66 percent, even though money-related fears made up only 40 percent of the response options.
GOBankingRates conducted a Survata survey from Aug. 26 to 29, 2014. The total number of respondents was 1,021. Question No. 1, regarding respondents' three biggest fears, required three responses per individual, while all other questions asked respondents to select just one answer.