Money problems are pretty common. In fact, 73% of Americans say finances are their top source of stress in life. So if you are feeling the pinch and worrying, you are not alone.
But that doesn’t mean you should live with the anxiety that a mountain of debt or low credit score can bring.
Here, you’ll learn about the most common financial issues you may face, how to avoid money problems, and how to resolve them if and when they strike.
Why Are Money Problems Common?
There are many factors that contribute to money problems. Depending on your situation, you might be dealing with, among other factors:
• A lower income
• A higher cost of living
• Student loan debt
• A medical or other emergency
• Overspending (perhaps due to compulsive shopping)
• A job layoff
7 Common Money Issues
Financial challenges can happen to anyone — whether you are younger or older, rich or living paycheck to paycheck. Here are some of the most common money issues that people come up against.
1. High Credit Card Debt
Credit cards can be a useful tool for disciplined consumers who are trying to build good credit. And there are several perks to paying with a card instead of cash, including convenience, purchase protections, and rewards programs.
But many Americans aren’t able to pay off their account balance every month. According to U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Reserve Bank of New York data, the average household carries a whopping $7,951 in credit card debt.
Thanks to high interest rates, items you charge on a credit card and don’t pay off right away end up costing quite a bit more. As of spring of 2023, the average credit card rate topped 20%.
The interest you’re charged on a credit card also compounds, which means interest is calculated not only on the principal amount owed but also the accumulated interest from previous pay periods.
While this kind of compounding is a positive thing for compound-interest savings accounts, it can be a real issue with your plastic. It means a credit card balance can grow exponentially, even if you pay the minimum every month. Add in late charges and the possibility that the interest rate could be increased on an overdue account, and it’s easy to see how consumers get into trouble.
2. A Low Credit Score
Carrying too much debt or failing to make credit card or loan payments on time may result in a lower credit score.
A low credit score can make it harder to get a loan, such as a mortgage or a credit card. And even if an application is approved, the interest rate the lender offers may be higher than what’s available to borrowers with better scores. That higher interest rate can make it harder to make payments and keep up with other bills, which can, in turn, further hurt your credit score.
A low credit score can also negatively impact your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. And, it can take years before negative factors like late payments, defaults, and collections are removed from credit reports.
3. Not Having an Emergency Fund
Setting money aside in an emergency fund may seem like a luxury for those who are struggling to meet everyday expenses. But a solid savings buffer can actually be even more important if you’re living on a tight budget.
Without an emergency fund, any unexpected expense that comes along — whether it’s a high medical bill, a car or home repair, or a temporary job loss – can throw you way off balance.
As a result, you might need to use high-interest credit cards, retirement savings (which can trigger penalty charges), or other options that can add even more stress to a challenging situation.
A solid contingency fund that contains at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses can be an essential component of financial stability.
4. Spending More Than You Earn
Picking up a morning latte and grabbing lunch out may not seem like it could make or break your bottom line. But just $25 per week spent eating out will cost you $1,300 per year, which is money that could go toward an extra loan payment or a few extra car payments.
If you tend to make spending decisions on the fly (without any type of budget or financial plan in mind), it can be easy to blow through more money than you actually earn, and much harder to achieve your financial goals.
While the causes of overspending are varied, the habit is one of the most common reasons why people get caught in the debt trap. If you don’t have the cash to cover your expenses, you may rely on credit cards to get you through.
Once you start paying interest on your credit card balance, your monthly expenses go up. This can make it even harder to live within your means and, as a result, lead to more debt.
Get up to $250 towards your holiday shopping.
Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $250 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!1
5. Facing Foreclosure
State foreclosure rates vary, but regardless of where you live, it can be a major concern for struggling homeowners, especially in tough economic times.
People can end up in foreclosure for any number of reasons, including financial mismanagement (buying too much house or choosing a loan payment they can’t afford), or uncontrollable events (such as a job loss or expensive medical condition).
The process is typically slow, but it can be daunting to imagine having to move, especially if it means taking children out of a school or neighborhood they love. And there can be long-lasting financial consequences, as well.
A foreclosure can have a significant effect on a credit score, and it can stay on a person’s credit record for years.
6. Student Debt
While getting a college degree can improve your earning potential, the cost of getting that degree continues to skyrocket. And so has student loan debt.
Recent statistics reveal that the average student has $37,338 in debt due to educational loans. As students leave college and enter the workforce, paying back that money can be a major challenge. Student loan burdens can lead to postponing certain milestones, including homebuying or having children, and saving for retirement.
Recommended: Average Student Loan Debt: Who Owes the Most?
7. Not Saving Enough for Retirement
According to a recent survey, one in four Americans has no retirement savings. Zip, nada. While having no money in the bank for later life can make some people feel like, “Why even bother trying to say,” know that financial advisors stress that saving something is better than nothing.
Thanks to the magic of compounding interest (when the interest earned on your money gets reinvested and earns interest of its own), even putting just a small percent of your paycheck into a 401K or IRA each month can add up over time.
Recommended: How to Manage Your Money Better
Money Problem Solving
If you recognize that you have money problems brewing or in full force, here are some steps to solve the problem:
Identify the Issue
Though it may be tempting to hide from what is going on, digging in and exploring where your money is going (or isn’t going) is an important move. Is your credit card debt feeling insurmountable? Are your housing and food costs rising too steeply? Did a job loss or medical bill force you into a difficult financial position?
Figure out and face the facts so you can move forward.
Develop and Implement a Plan
Once you know the source (or sources) of your money stress, you are in a position to take action. In a moment, you’ll learn some important ways to take control of financial issues. These include budgeting and paying down debt.
But other specific moves may suit your situation, such as debt consolidation or refinancing student loans.
If despite digging into your money issues, you are feeling unclear of how to proceed or as if there isn’t a feasible solution, reach out for help. There are an array of professionals who might be appropriate, from a certified financial planner (CPA) to a low- or no-cost debt counselor.
How to Cope with Money Issues
If you’re dealing with money problems (or hoping to avoid any future setbacks), here are some money management strategies you may want to put into place.
Setting a Budget
People tend to cringe at the word “budget” because it sounds like work, but having a budget in place can help simplify your finances and improve your money mindset.
To create a monthly budget, you simply need to gather up the last several months of financial statements and receipts and then use them to figure out how much you’re bringing in (after taxes) each month, as well as how much you are spending on average each month.
If the latter exceeds the former, or is so close there’s nothing left over for saving, you may want to drill down deeper.
To see exactly where your money is going you may need to track your expenses for a month or two and then determine exactly how much is going towards nonessential (or discretionary) purchases, where you may be able to cut back.
You may also want to consider adopting the 50-30-20 budget rule. With this type of budget, half your take-home income goes towards needs (or essential expenses), 30 percent goes towards wants (nonessentials), and 20 percent goes towards your financial goals–such as debt repayment beyond the minimum, building an emergency fund, and saving for a home or retirement.
Knocking Down Debt
Reducing debt may seem like a tall mountain to climb, but using a systematic approach can help make the process more manageable.
One method you might consider is the snowball method. This involves paying as much as you can each month toward your smallest balance while making the minimum payment on all your other debts so your accounts remain in good standing. Once you’ve paid off that smallest debt, you move on to the new smallest balance and continue this process until you’ve paid off all your accounts.
Another approach you may want to consider is the avalanche method. With this strategy, you start by paying as much as possible toward the debt with the highest interest rate, while making minimum payments on all the others. Once that debt is paid off, you move to the balance with the next-highest interest rate, and so on.
As briefly noted above, debt consolidation is an option as well, perhaps with a personal loan or a student loan refinance.
It’s common to face money issues throughout your life, particularly when you are just starting out. Some of the most common include overspending, being burdened by debt, not having a financial cushion for emergencies, and not putting enough away for retirement.
Whatever financial challenges you are facing, you may want to clearly assess the issue and then come up with a spending, saving, and debt repayment plan that can help you get back onto solid ground.
Need some help? If you’re looking to keep better track of your spending and saving, a SoFi Checking and Savings high interest bank account may be a good option.
You can use the SoFi app to track your weekly spending and see how you’re doing with your budget. You can use the Vaults feature to earmark the cash in your account for different goals.
What are common money problems?
Common money problems include high-interest credit card debt, lower income, student loan debt, a low credit score, and overspending.
What do people struggle with most financially?
What people struggle with financially will vary from person to person, but debt, inflation, high cost of living, and lack of emergency-fund and retirement savings are common issues.
What are 4 common investment mistakes?
Four common investment mistakes include not establishing a long-term plan, letting emotion guide your decisions, attempting to time the market, and flying to diversify your portfolio.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .