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There’s a revealing story in the latest issue of Esquire and online at Esquire.com. Interviewed by David Walters, four men with four vastly different incomes—below and above the poverty line—share how they live.

When Walters asked each of the men, “How often do you worry about money?” all but one of them said that he worried about money at least once a week. The only person who said that money wasn’t something he stressed about was the guy who earns $53,000 a year which is around the median income in the US. Meanwhile, the guy who made nearly five times as much ($250,000) said he worries about money everyday. Even the millionaire CEO said he worries about money at least once a week, simply because he’s been broke before. As for the bar-back living at the poverty line, he said he “always” worries about money.

What that Esquire article tells us is that our financial fears can haunt us no matter how much money we make. Still, identifying your money fears is a helpful first step toward unburdening yourself from the stress of what-ifs and worst case scenarios.  As an exercise, read through this list of common money fears to see if you can spot your biggest concern.

  1. You Lose Your Job. This might also be “you lose your business” if you’re an entrepreneur or “you lose your biggest client or main source of income” if you’re an independent worker. To some degree, joblessness is unpredictable. Life changes in an instant, but we can protect ourselves from the swift unforeseen transitions by budgeting and saving up a comfortable emergency fund. (For more information about building an emergency fund, see my blog, “Here’s Why Your Budget Isn’t Working. (Hint: You Need To Know Why You’re Saving In the First Place.)” at KewhoMin.Blogspot.)
  2. The Stock Market Crashes. A major crash that affects just about everyone is surely a big fear for a lot of investors. But this fear might also be a localized one that reflects an investor’s sense that they will be the only ones, or one of a few, to lose their shirt in a risky endeavor. It’s important to remember that yes, while incurring some risk is to be expected, you shouldn’t feel as though you’re constantly on edge about your portfolio. When you find your investment comfort zone, don’t be afraid to stay in it. 
  3. Your Identity Is Stolen. Banks are increasingly improving the measures with which they monitor the activity on your accounts and alert you of potentially fraudulent activity. One preemptive measure that you can practice now is changing up your passwords, not only for your bank and credit card accounts but for any websites that use for online purchases—from Pizza Hut to Payless.  
  4. You Become Penniless and Broke. Even if, in your worst case scenario, broke doesn’t mean a zero bank account, it’s not unusual to worry about having much less money than you have today. And, if you feel like you don’t have enough money or you’re living at or near the poverty line, then your fear might not be of becoming broke but of being as broke tomorrow as you are today. 
  5. You Become Homeless. There is a distinction between the fear of being penniless and the fear of being homeless. It might mean literally living on the street or it could mean having to move in with someone like a parent in order to make ends meet. Either way, this is a very popular fear. In fact, for many women in their 20s and 30s, it’s known as The Bag Lady Syndrome. 

Kewho Min is a certified public accountant who has advised some of the world’s largest and most influential multinational corporations.