Nothing says Halloween like spooky stories.
But it’s not only tales about ghosts and goblins that can send shivers down your spine.
In fact, if you’re not careful, you may find yourself living in a financial horror story, which may be the scariest thing of them all!
Today we share some common financial horror stories, as well as ways to rescue yourself.
Few things fill us with that sense of dread in the pit of our stomach than realizing you’ve lost something.
Even more so when it’s your credit card.
That’s why the first financial horror story can be called The Tale of the Missing Plastic.
The story starts off innocently enough.
You’ve been out all day—shopping, meeting up with some friends, and finally getting something to eat.
But right when it’s time to ask for the check to your horror you find your credit card is gone.
And in a situation like that, it’s hard not to think of the worst: Where did I leave it?
Did someone steal it?
Will I be responsible for fraudulent purchases?
Thankfully, as with the rest of my stories, there’s a way to escape the financial terror or at least ensure you mitigate some of the risk by educating yourself more thoroughly before you take any action.
In this particular case, it starts with trying not to panic.
Retrace your steps and double check that you haven’t simply misplaced it.
If, however, your credit card is nowhere to be found, you can still find comfort in the fact that most credit card companies offer some level of fraud protection.
If you find yourself in this scenario, be sure to call your credit card company or financial institution and let them know about what’s going on so they can cancel the card and quickly get working on sending you a replacement.
Definitely keep an eye on your account and dispute any transactions that don’t look familiar or suspicious.
Another great way to safeguard from a horror story like this is looking at enrolling in a proactive type of monitoring program.
For example, at HawaiiUSA they offer a service to our members and their families called ID Restore, which provides monitoring services for financial accounts, dark web activity, and medical transaction, added insurance and reimbursement coverage on stolen funds, as well as concierge-style customer service.
It’s just another way HawaiiUSA can help their members choose wisely and stay safe.
The next story is something I like to call The Invisible Man and the Auto Loan.
Imagine you have friend who due to some financial troubles doesn’t have the very best credit score, but desperately needs a car for reasons A, B, and C.
Never one to turn your back on a friend, you agree to co-sign on an auto loan to help them get the funds necessary to finance a vehicle.
And for the next few months things seem as though they’re going great.
That is until you start getting calls from the financing company about how that friend is past due on the loan and skipped out of town.
And since you co-signed the loan, you find yourself stuck for the balance with no friend or car in sight.
Being stuck with a loan payment for something you don’t even possess, on top of the damage past due payments over 30 days can do to your credit, is absolutely a horror story.
To hopefully avoid the situation altogether, make sure you get a good grasp of what it means to co-sign on a loan before you sign the dotted line.
Nothing can take the place of a sound education and understanding.
Make sure you fully weigh the positives and negatives first.
The last story is called Buried Alive.
The story goes you’re working and living life seemingly responsibly, but you have a strong taste for spending.
And we’re not talking everyday low-cost kinds of shopping.
This is high-end, luxury goods and 5-star restaurants.
At first you don’t think anything of it; you just swipe your credit card and move on to the next store.
But soon you notice the balance, as well as the minimum payment owed on each credit card statement has gotten bigger and bigger, and soon enough there’s no way you can pay off your month’s balance.
The big red stamped “FINAL NOTICE” on each of the bills you’re receiving just further goes to paint the picture.
When it comes to irresponsible debt management, the mounting bills and notices can easily make you feel as though you’re being buried alive.
And without the proper direction you’re bound to be overwhelmed mentally and financially.
To help you avoid finding yourself trapped, create a spending plan to accurately account for cash flows.
You’ll be able to determine essential spending and discern what money needs to be used and what is excessive.
It also pays to create an emergency fund.
Once open, start regularly depositing funds into it so you build up at least three months of living expenses.
That way you can both prepare for unexpected expenses on top of stopping the perpetuating of debt.
Budgeting and planning, however, may not come easy to you.
That’s why it helps to work with someone who may be able to provide you further guidance.
At HawaiiUSA, we have a team of experts ready and willing to sit down with you to give you a more accurate assessment of your financial wellness and provide guidance on ways to better situate yourself on your financial wellness journey.