Financial Impact of a Life Crisis Can be Overwhelming

March 31, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In times of life crisis, family finances may suffer significantly, according to the results of a nationwide survey released by AARP Financial Inc.

More than half (57%) of the 1,200 adults surveyed said they had already experienced a major life crisis such as job loss, divorce, death of a spouse, or serious illness or disability of an immediate family member or themselves, and in the vast majority of cases, the event had a significant impact on their finances, according to a press release. Of those Americans who experienced long-term job loss, six in ten said that it had a very significant impact on their finances, and 47% of respondents who experienced a serious illness or long-term disability echoed the same sentiment.

Additional emotional and psychological factors can make things worse. The press release said over half of those surveyed (54%), said it was hard to keep their emotions in check during a major life event and 42% said it was at least somewhat difficult to stay focused.

When it came to respondents’ finances, “overwhelmed” was the most frequently cited emotion in instances of divorce (48%), death of a spouse (65%), serious illness/disability of self, a spouse or life partner (75%), or serious illness/disability of a child (79%). Fear of the future was the most frequently cited emotion in cases of long-term job loss (66%), followed closely by “overwhelmed” (57%).

Asked where they turn to for help managing the financial implications of a life crisis, immediate family was the number one response, followed by friends or colleagues. However, 45% of those who had experienced a life crisis said it was hard to trust the financial information/guidance they were receiving.

Of respondents who sought professional advice in times of life crisis, 66% said they had a “very positive experience,” and another 24% said they had a “somewhat positive experience.”

AARP Financial has created an online resource to deal with financial implications of a life crisis at www.aarpfinancial.com/lifecrisis .

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