Here’s How Our Members Faced These 3 Fearsome Financial Situations… and Changed Their Futures

If you ask a kid to name the scariest things they can think of, you might hear stories about angry ghosts or creepy clowns or the super-cool popular girl whose ponytail is always perfect. 

But for adults, the darkest fears often look a little bit different: Commitment. Failure. Going broke. (And, yes, the super-cool popular girl with the perfect hair is still up there, though she might be a colleague instead of a classmate. 💁‍♀️)

Life is full of risks both real and imagined, no matter how old you are, and there’s no way to quell your fears altogether. Given the popularity and joy of the Halloween season, you might not even want to! 

That said, it’s always a comfort to know that you’re not alone in your trepidation — the money scaries come for all of us at some point. And as a few of our very own members reveal, sometimes, a brush with fear is exactly what it takes to get us on the path to better money management for the future. 

Are you afraid of the dark? 💡

If there’s one thing none of us wants around Halloween (or, honestly, any time of year), it’s for the lights to go out. But that’s exactly the spooky situation that faced Penny Barrett, a Chime member who lives in Terre Haute, Indiana: the electricity bill was coming due, and Barrett didn’t have enough money in her account to cover it. 😱

Fortuitously enough, Barrett was already a Chime member at the time, and was able to stay out of the dark thanks to our SpotMe¹ feature. And she was only a few days out from getting paid, so she was able to quickly put her account back to rights, no harm, no foul. 

The most important part of the journey? As a result of the scare, Barrett started getting a little craftier with her budget to avoid running into the same problem in the future. “I got a little bit more creative with my budget, decided what I could cut out,” she said. One of the main culprits? Prepared foods, which she figured out by glancing through her list of transactions. “I thought, ‘Oh I really do go to McDonald’s for a frappe a little too often,’” Barrett said, chuckling. Good thing there’s enough free candy this month to cover that sweet tooth on cheap!

Or getting stuck far from home? 🚗

These days, Kentucky-based Chime member Jerica Overall works as a sales manager — but a couple of years ago, she was juggling a full-time job with the pursuit of her undergraduate degree in graphic design and art entrepreneurship. 

Which is to say, she definitely had her hands full and her pockets relatively empty when her car came sputtering to a stop along the hour-long route from home to school. Her credit cards were maxed out and all of her extra cash was going straight towards tuition payments. So she sat there in her driver’s seat wondering, “How am I going to be able to get home?” 😩

Luck saved the day for Overall, too: she had just about $100 stashed in her account thanks to Round Up² — an amount the tow truck driver agreed to call a deal when she explained her situation (“I’m a broke college student!”).

And just like Barrett, Overall turned the scary scenario into a catalyst for financial change that has led to better money management in the long run. “From that moment on I made it a goal that whenever I got paid, even if it was no more than 10 or 15 bucks, it went straight to savings,” she said. “It was my emergency fund. I was not allowed to touch it” — unless, of course, she gets stuck far from home some other day in the future. Preparation is key! 🔑

The taxman cometh 💸

One decidedly adult nexus of fear? Tax time — which somehow always seems to sneak up on us no matter how well the date is seared into our brains. Chime member Barrett, mentioned above, had another scary situation one year when property taxes came due… and she was a whopping $1 shy of the total. SpotMe¹ came to the rescue again, but given that nothing this life is guaranteed except death and taxes, this money fear is one we all get to face time and time again. 💀

Especially as more and more Americans shift toward the gig economy for either their primary or supplementary income streams, taxes can become a real bugaboo. Filing when you don’t make regular W-2 income is more complicated, and depending on your circumstances, you may find you owe Uncle Sam money, which is a decidedly spookier turn of events than sitting back and waiting for a fat refund check. 

The good news? A little bit of fiscal forethought can go a long way: an emergency fund, for instance, makes it easier to foot an unforeseen tax bill without your finances going fully awry. Fee-free overdraft protection can help, too, which is why it’s always helpful to choose a company that has your back! (Like Chime. Just sayin’.)

What are your deepest wealth woes? 🎃

Electricity bills, tow trucks, and taxes, oh my! We all know these are just the beginning when it comes to the wide world of money scaries, which can make monsters like Godzilla and Jason look totally manageable.

But as our members have proven, fortune smiles on those who think through the worst ahead of time, whether that means saving up a substantial financial cushion just in case or choosing to stash your cash with an app that will cover you if you come up short once in a while. (It happens to the best of us!) 

So this Halloween season, pay attention to those parts of your financial life that give you a chill. What are they — and what might they be trying to tell you about your money management habits? Sometimes, a little bit of change is exactly the horror movie hero we need! 

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