"It's a spooky time of year, but your finances shouldn't be scaring you. Most of us share concerns about our money and our financial futures. It's normal, and even healthy sometimes, to be on alert when it comes to your finances. But as with any fear, your financial terrors shouldn't rule your life. Here are some tips to deal with some of the most common worries so you can leave the scaring to the ghosts and the goblins.
Many fear that illness or medical emergency involving themselves or a loved one will leave them bankrupt. This is certainly a valid fear as medical catastrophes account for the highest number of bankruptcies. Keeping an emergency fund and being informed of what your health insurance covers are essential preemptive measures to take.
If the situation does unfortunately arise, ask the hospital for an itemized bill and review it carefully. Ensure that each item was actually provided during the hospital stay. If not, bring it to the attention of the hospital. Additionally, health insurance companies change their billing codes frequently. If you were charged for something that should've been covered by insurance, your doctor may have used an old code. Give your an insurance company a call to try to remedy the error.
Paying for retirement
Another of the most common financial fears is not saving enough money for retirement. Over the past several years; the pension changes, the outlook for social security, and the increase in lifespans have all caused heightened concern about retirement savings. Young people, in particular, are concerned about whether they'll be able to save enough. Thinking about retirement can certainly be stressful and scary. You may feel as though you'll have to work forever or that you'll be unable to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
The best way to ease your mind will be to start saving as early and as much as possible. By beginning your savings as a young adult, you'll create the habit. Then, you won't even notice the money coming out of your account. Research how much your employer will match. And remember that retirement funds use compound interest. The earlier you put money into a 401(k) or an IRA account, the more it will grow over time.
Affording your child's education
Tuition rates continue to rise every year. Therefore, being able to send your children to college has become a prominent financial fear. Young parents are especially concerned about saving for their children's future because they may still be paying their own student debt. But it's never too late to start saving. You can create a savings plan at any given point. Saving something is better than saving nothing.
Additionally, creating a cost analysis for what's needed to pay for your children's schooling is sensible. This process can start around the time your oldest child is 10 or 11. You'll then be able to use this to create a savings plan. Figure out how much will be reasonable to save each year, then break it down by month.
You may also wish to discuss the cost of college with your children with age-appropriate conversations. Help them understand the significance of the cost to ensure they take it seriously. As they get older, emphasize that hard work can help them earn scholarships, which can save money. Discuss other ways in which they may be able to contribute to their college fund, such as getting a part-time job.
Losing your job
Whether it's getting fired or laid off, losing your job can be a major blow to your financial situation. Once again, it's best to be proactive to prepare for the worst. Continuing your education or learning a new skill can help make you a more marketable job candidate in case you're let go. If you have an annual review with your current boss, use this as an opportunity to gauge your status. Get a feel for where you stand and what the future of the company may look like. Additionally, at any point during your career, having a few months of living expenses saved up is a wise move.
Being held back by debt
Many people have accumulated significant debt and may fear that their debt is insurmountable. They may also be afraid of how their debt will begin to creep into other parts of their lives. Debt can affect you in a vast number of ways. It can affect the types of loans you qualify for, your mental health and even your relationship.
You may be afraid your significant other will find out how much debt you have. You may wish to keep the information to yourself and work it out alone. To face this fear, the first step is, to be honest with yourself. From there, find out how much debt you have and make a plan to tackle it. Then sit down and have a frank discussion with your significant other. You may feel better after just having the conversation.
Facing your debt head-on, and being honest with yourself and your loved ones, will help prevent you from feeling as if you're drowning. This will help your overall financial situation. In turn, your relationship with money will improve.
Having fears about your finances is entirely normal. Many of us have worried about money and what might happen to our money in unfortunate situations. But, as with other fears in life, it's essential to manage your financial worries. By being proactive and honest with yourself, you can make your financial situation less intimidating and more manageable.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.