Finances are consistently at the top of the list of what’s stressing Americans out. So, we think it’s no coincidence that April is Financial Literacy Month and Stress Awareness Month. We also think it’s no coincidence that both financial and stress management are keys to living a happier, more peaceful and fulfilled life.
Living paycheck to paycheck, having no savings to rely on if an emergency happens, sharp increases in healthcare costs, not to mention saving for retirement – these are just a few of the more common financial stresses Americans face.
So, if your finances are stressing you out, what can you do?
Set up money dates with yourself on a calendar you often use. It’s a non-negotiable date.
Like maintaining your home, you must maintain and upkeep your financial system.
When was the last time you sat down to review your net worth statement or audited your total household spending and savings plan?
When was the last time you checked your investments and re-balanced your portfolio in your IRAs or other retirement accounts?
When was the last time you double checked your math to see if you’re even saving enough to meet your goals?
When was the last time you sat down to update your financial goals?
If it’s been more than 6 months, it’s time to reassess and examine your status. How confident are you that your financial needle is moving in a positive direction?
Set a money date with yourself. Set a frequency of when you will have that money date and answer those 4 questions each time. The point of those money dates isn’t just to check on your budget; the purpose is to maintain financial awareness and how it’s affecting your future.
If you have trouble committing to dates with yourself (like going to the dreadful gym), find a trusting accountability partner. You don’t have to necessarily share your financial details; you’re just telling them about your date so you uphold yourself to it.
Set your savings on autopilot.
We don’t need to lecture about the importance of saving. That’s like telling you to eat healthier. It’s common knowledge.
Though common knowledge, it is not common practice to save. Instead of checking in every single month or pay period to transfer money into that savings or investment account, set it on auto contribution.
Just like your Netflix is paid on autopilot, so should your savings. View your savings as an expense. It’s money that you will eventually spend… just not today.
For each pay period, set up your savings account to each paycheck so deposits go directly into it instead of hitting your checking account first and then going into a savings.
Get creative to bring in more income.
So, you’ve gotten clear on where your finances are. You’ve even created an extremely detailed budget. The only problem is the numbers don’t add up – you’re not bringing in enough money to pay for your financial obligations.
If this is your financial situation, it’s time to get creative and figure out a way to bring in some extra income.
Can you get a new job that will pay more? Maybe it’s time to upgrade your career.
Can you take on more responsibilities at your current job and negotiate a pay raise?
Can you start a temporary side hustle?
Can you sell some items in your home that are worth some money but haven’t thought to list it on eBay? Your “trash” could be someone’s treasure.
Are you short on income or is the real problem is that too much is being spent each month?
There are a lot of ways these days to tackle the problem of being short on cash. It might require you to step out of your comfort zone. How much is bridging the gap worth to you?
THE BOTTOM LINE:
We’re all dealing with increasing stress. If your finances are a chronic source of stress, it’s time to make some habit changes.