Frightening Finances 2023: Job Hunting, Credit-Card Balances and More

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A pink piggy bank is shattered and fractured.
(Adobe Stock)

Halloween is just around the corner, and it's time for another of my annual forays into frightening figures from the world of personal finances. This year offered plenty to pick from. In fact, with so many options, I decided to break what I found into two articles. In the spirit of the season, may these numbers scare you to positive action:

61%

This represents how many American households are living paycheck to paycheck. A recent report from The Lending Club called out Americans' struggle to cope with inflation and economic turmoil. The first step to navigating financial problems and appropriately allocating resources is to build a spending plan. Track where your money is going and map out where it should be going, so you are not part of that scary paycheck-to-paycheck crowd.

96%

According to Monster, this is the percentage of workers hunting for a new position this year. The lure of better pay is real, but don't forget about some of the secondary effects of job change. Compare benefits, account for retirement plan vesting and keep longevity incentives, such as paid time off, in mind as you ponder a move. Avoid cashing in your retirement when you move to your next position.

24th

Texas is the headquarters of USAA but only 24th in the 2023 financial literacy rankings done by WalletHub. At the risk of putting myself out of business, I've always said personal finance is not rocket science. So, no matter where you're from, look for opportunities to fine-tune your understanding.

56%

According to a Bankrate survey early this year, most Americans would be unable to come up with $1,000 in cash to meet an immediate financial challenge. Your emergency fund provides a protective barrier in the event of some sort of financial mishap. Assess where you stand. While $1,000 set aside in an emergency fund is a good start, most people probably need significantly more. Do your own math.

$40,657

Experian reports that the average new car loan in the second quarter of this year was more than $40,000. That's more than a 14% increase over the last two years. I have long been a proponent of making sound financial decisions when it comes to your "big-ticket" moves such as transportation and housing. Clearly, the stakes continue to rise. Don't let the emotion of your next trip to the car dealer cause you to make a bad decision.

47%

This many U.S. adults carry a credit-card balance from month to month, according to a recent Bankrate survey. One misconception I run into regularly is the idea that you must carry a credit-card balance to have a top-notch credit score. Not true. Don't let this type of misinformation trick you into paying exorbitant and unnecessary interest.

All that might have you running for cover, but if it has you thinking just a little bit about smart money moves, I'd call it a Halloween treat.

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