Top Ten Financial Frights

Halloween is the season of thrills and chills, but financial frights probably are another story entirely. Here are ten ways to avoid those financial scares that will have you quivering under the covers until Christmas.

You’ve Lost Half Your Money in the Market
Yes, the market has taken a dive off a very steep cliff. But before you hide in the back of the closet, consider this simple solution: don’t look. Don’t log into your online account, don’t open that statement. It’s sounds like the opposite of the usual advice, but there’s nothing you can do about the money you’ve already lost.

A Jack O’Lantern Burns Your House Down – And Insurance Isn’t Enough
If you bought your homeowners policy a long time ago, it may not be enough to cover the current value. Make sure your policy includes replacement cost coverage. You may have to pay a little more for it, but a few hundred now is better than several thousand later.

Your Company Goes Belly-Up
You can’t prevent your employer from going out of business (unless you’ve been charging first-class trips to Vegas on the company dime), but you can build up a nice emergency fund to help you get by until you land a new position.

Your Car Blows Up
The good news: now is a good time to get a deal on a car. The bad news: it’s harder to get an auto loan. Once again, your emergency fund is your friend and so is a stellar credit report. Start polishing that baby up!

Your Spouse Comes Home with a Pricey Sports Car/Diamond Necklace
Ah, the mid-life crisis. Although you can’t necessarily avoid the crisis itself, you can learn to communicate about money before it happens so that your spouse will now he or she has to think twice before shelling out major bucks for anything.

Your Doctor Recommends a Treatment and Insurance Doesn’t Cover It
Step 1: panic. Step 2: get a second opinion. Step 3: negotiate the price with the doctor. Ask if you can get the rate insurance would typically pay if it were covered. Step 4: dig into the emergency fund. That’s why you have it.

Your Kid Got Into Stanford, but Wants to Major in Music
Although lots of Stanford grads earn gobs of money, but many others don’t, especially those in the more “creative” or “humanitarian” majors. Sure, the college offers it, but it should probably be a minor unless your kid is the next Yo Yo Ma (in which case, he deserves a scholarship.) If your kids insists on the major, recommend a lower-priced state school.

Your Neighbor is Building a Turkish Palace 
Hear that sound? That’s the sound of your home value evaporating. If your neighbor starts to build a monstrosity, call the permit office to make sure they received approval. If they did, hire a lawyer to file an injunction so you can try to get that permit revoked. That neighbor won’t like you, but everyone else on the block will.

Your Electric Bill Shoots from $100 to $500 in One Month
This happened to my friend. In one month, her bill skyrocketed. First she made sure no one in her house had bought any servers, then she called the electric company. It seems they had a glitch in the computer that estimates the usage between readings. She demanded that a meter-reader be sent out. He came, he saw, she didn’t have to pay the outrageous bill.

Surprise! You’re Expecting Sextuplets
Step 1: panic. Step 2: start planning now for the future of six kids. Step 3: call the local news. Welcome Today, Good Morning America, and every other news organization to your door regularly so you too can receive the largesse from diaper companies and everyone else who sees your story. Maybe then a TV production company will knock on your door and you can have your own TV show, too.

These are my financial frights. What financial disaster do you fear most? Tell me in the comments.

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