A Nightmare On Main Street

Many Americans live out their financial nightmares every day. This Halloween, Callahan employees share what their nightmares look like.

Americans are badly in need of help when it comes to money. So finds a recent report, The Secret Financial Lives of Americans and the Future of Financial Services.

The statistics are staggering. Interviews with more than 2,200 consumers are included within the 117-page report, which finds that despite presenting financial comfort on the surface, Americans by and large are treading water.

  • 52% of respondents said they have cried at some point in their life because they didn’t have enough money.
  • 37% have gone to sleep hungry because they did not have money for food.
  • 12% have stolen something because they didn’t have enough money to buy it.
  • 5% have taken half-eaten food out of a garbage can because they were hungry.

Clearly, many Americans are already living out a financial nightmare whether or not their neighbors know it. Credit unions are positioned to alleviate some of these financial strains, but it’s often taboo or embarrassing to talk about money.

This Halloween, we’re starting a conversation. Here, several Callahan employees share their financial nightmares. Add yours to the comments below.

Employee No. 1

Nicole Sanders, Digital Engagement Associate

Age: 25

Nightmare: I am terrified I will not be able to pay off my student loans. I receive some help from my parents, but the majority of the loan repayment falls on me. Aside from rent and utilities, a lot of my paycheck goes to paying off my student loans. I have approximately $60,000 left, and the thought of not being able to pay them off gives me anxiety that keeps me up at night. I do math in my head to see what I can afford for the next month after I pay off the previous month’s bill. It scares me to think about my future and how these loans affect it. I get nervous thinking about having a family but not being able to provide for them. I watched family members struggle financially, and I am vigilant to ensure I never go through what they went through.

Employee No. 2

Dick Rowan, Director, Finance & Controller

Age: 34

Nightmare: With our first child on the way, we find ourselves still renting when we would love to buy. But a very high cost of housing plus the looming costs associated with childcare limits our prospects. Add to that the fear that we will be paying for our child’s higher education while still paying for our own.

Employee No. 3


Age: 23

Nightmare: Four years. It takes four years to get an undergraduate degree. Four years of student loans piling up, year after year after year loan after loan after loan. On top of that, in your fourth year of school you get a letter in the mail stating you have six months to find a job to pay them back. You look down at the paper and BAM! you owe $108,000 and have a $1,500 monthly payment. You arise from your slumber and realize this wasn’t a nightmare at all this is real life.

Employee No. 4

Seth Shibelski, Marketing & Engagement Specialist

Age: 27


  • The stock market crashes around my retirement age, and my 401(k) becomes worthless.
  • The market crashes now (or soon), I lose my job, and I don’t have enough savings to live off of. Hi Mom and Dad, I’m back.
  • I make any big investment now (house or grad school) and the market crashes. I am saddled with debt that I can’t pay off. Bye Mom and Dad, guten tag Deutschland.

You know, it would be nice if our entire financial future weren’t tied to the performance of the stock market (*cough* pensions, adequate Social Security, subsidized education, and health care *cough*).


Employee No. 5

Mike Zaleski, Account Manager

Age: 29

Nightmare: The housing market collapses again and I’m left with an overpriced mortgage.

Employee No. 6

Erik Payne, Associate Editor

Age: 27

Nightmare: I’m a pessimist. I don’t expect to retire (for many, many reasons) so my biggest fear isn’t about saving enough for myself … it’s about saving enough for my children. By the time that generation is born, the global economy is (fingers crossed) bound to look wildly different from what it does today. Assuming there is no widespread collapse of monetary systems, they’ll need my financial help to equip themselves with whatever skills and knowledge required to attain gainful employment. My cost of living is already so high that I worry about saving enough for the future while enjoying my life today.

Employee No. 7

Rebecca Wessler, Editor-in-Chief

Age: 39

Nightmare: I have three children that currently range in age from 4 to 7. I fully expect to have all three in college at the same time for at least one year. This already gives me nightmares. I’m planning and saving now, of course, but I dream of the day the cost of college stabilizes or even drops (HA!).

Employee No. 8

Sergio Coimbra, Office Manager

Age: 54

Nightmare: My nightmare is that my daughter doesn’t do well. She’s 25 now. My (financial) life with all its ups and downs, and more downs, has taught me that as long as you have family, a mother, a spouse, brothers and sisters, good friends, you will never end up on the street begging that would be a nightmare. Being poor is OK, not ideal, but OK.

Employee No. 9

Marc Rapport, Senior Writer

Age: 62

Nightmare: My financial nightmare is that of many if not most Americans my age: Not having my Medicare coverage and Social Security benefits available to me, especially if I live into my 80s or beyond. They’re called entitlements and I am entitled to them, having paid into Social Security and Medicare for more than 40 years. Now, members of Congress are blaming those entitlements for the deficit last year’s tax cuts made worse. My nightmare, one that I think we underestimate the likelihood of becoming a reality, is that Congress follows through with threats to cut entitlements to pay for tax breaks.

Employee No. 10

Jen Davis, Vice President of Information Services & Technology

Age: 36

Nightmare: My financial nightmare is putting a large down payment on a house and no longer having that financial cushion in case something happens.


October 30, 2018

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