Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck and the times in between can be very stressful. As we all know, stress is not good for us; it has a negative effect on our health and our relationships. According to CNN and Yahoo, money and finances are the number one cause for stress. Finding some relief from financial stress is important to our health. Stress has links to and can aggravate many chronic health conditions. Here are few ways to get yourself off of the financial roller coaster and bring balance into your life.
Get it all out there
Gather all of your financial information for the last month (paychecks, bank statements, utility bills, mortgage or rent expenses, and credit card and other debt and loan statements). Look over your bank statements to see exactly what you spend on variable expenses such as food, gas, entertainment, etc. Once you know exactly what your monthly expenses are, you have the information to create a roadmap out of chaos. Use the monthly Expense Tracking Form for help.
Now that you know the score, you can make a plan. Make a budget that is realistic and includes rewards for every goal that is met. Creating a plan is the easy part; sticking to it is a little harder. To help, get your family involved. In most families, there is more than one person spending (or asking for) money. So there should definitely be more than one person keeping the family on track. Having a spending plan will help you to know where all of your money is going, make changes if needed and create some emergency savings. Having savings for unexpected and periodic expenses will allow you to absorb the cost of when something comes up and prevent it from sending a shockwave through your financial life.
Sometimes it is helpful to get a fresh pair of trained eyes, so you may want to contact your local NFCC certified Financial Counseling agency, like LSS Financial Counseling, to get free guidance, support, and action planning.
Get started NOW
You can pull your credit report for free at Annual Credit Report.com to track down all the debts in your name, the amount owed for each, and to whom. If there is more money going out than coming in or if you don’t even know who you owe or how much, now is the time to take action. You’ll need to determine the main issue: is it your income, your expenses, or both? The sooner you tackle these issues, the more options you have. So don’t delay – get started right away.
Take it one day at time
As with everything there are good days and not so good days. Don’t let a set-back throw you off course. Things happen and there is always tomorrow. Stick to your plan and don’t give up on your goals. “Difficulties exist to be surmounted” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
When stress is unavoidable in our lives, it is important that we take the time to de-stress. With a quick internet search you will find hundreds of ways to relax in a matter of minutes – from breathing exercises to getting some fresh air. When you are able to de-stress you give yourself back the energy that your body burns on stress. Even if you take 5 minutes in your car before you head into the house to relax and leave your stress at the door, you walk in with a little more “you” for your family.
When money is tight it is really easy to focus on what we don’t have. However, there is always something to be grateful for: health, family, or even a sunny day. When you focus on what you are thankful for, it naturally turns your thoughts positive. Having a positive outlook helps us cope with set-backs and appreciate achievements.
Start reducing your financial stress TODAY. If you want someone experienced to help you get started, call LSS Financial Counseling at 888.577.2227 or, GET STARTED ONLINE NOW. Our trained Financial Counselors are here to help you take action!
Author Ashley Hagelin with LSS is a Certified Financial Counselor and specializes in Reverse Mortgage Counseling.