All of us stress about money; if you read yesterday’s article, that much is clear. We stress about our debt, our spending, our budget, and or investments. We stress about money. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, money is America’s number one stressor.
As a financial writer and financial coach, I want you to see you succeed and prosper financially. I want you to win the money game. And one of the biggest keys to winning is learning to reduce your stress. How to do that is something I’ve considered at great lengths. Here are three things you should and can do to reduce your financial stress:
1. Figure Out Your Finances
You’ve heard the saying: “Sure, money talks; but mine only says goodbye.” It’s time for you to get to know your money. One of the most common themes we see in the people who are most stressed is that they’re under-educated about their own financial situation.
The Fix: Pick a specific day to sit down with all your bills, all your statements, and a spreadsheet or sheet of paper. Determine your exact monthly income, your precise monthly expenses, the total amount of all your debt and the value of any assets you own, including stocks, real estate, household items, retirement funds, etc.. You may learn that things aren’t as bad as you thought, or you might find that your financial situation needs more urgent attention. Either way, by intimately knowing your financial situation you can step back and begin to formulate a plan rather than living in fearful ignorance.
2. Worry On Your Own Time
Have you ever had a slight headache that just sticks with you? A lot of people live with a slight “a financial headache” that always aches in the back of their head like a splinter. That’s enough to stress you out. (Trust me: it nearly drove us crazy.)
The Fix: Now I don’t actually want you to “worry,” per se. But it might do you good to have a regularly scheduled “Worry Appointment.” Set aside a quiet time each day or week to review your finances for 15-20 minutes maximum. This would be a great time to do a quick check of your month’s budget and spending, to open your bills, or to review your retirement portfolio. Within a week, you’ll find that you’re not worrying as much throughout each day.
3. Help Others, Help Yourself
Sometimes we can’t help but go to the self-pity party: “Ah, my life is so tough. I’m so broke… I can never do the things I want to do.” It’s understandable, especially if you are facing a particularly tough situation, or you’re sacrificing and working so intently to reach a goal, like becoming debt free.
The Fix: We all tend to get wrapped up in our own circumstances. The fastest way to get over your commercial envy is to give to others who are truly in need. There are so many great ways to give. You can give to your church or to a charity that’s close to your heart. You can donate your time to a service organization or sponsor a child in an impoverished part of the world. When you realize the good you are doing in someone’s life, any minor sacrifices you may be making begin in your own seem less important.