Handling Financial Stress
As we all know, April is Stress Awareness Month. Okay, actually, I had no idea, but an important topic nonetheless. If you ask most people what causes stress in their life, chances are good that MONEY would be among their answers.
Let's look at some numbers:
Statistics show that the average credit card debt sourceOne in six families with credit cards pays only the minimum due every month. Over 25 percent of Americans, or more than 58 million adults, admit to not paying all of their bills on time. Total bankruptcies filed last year exceeded one million. *
Simply reading those facts makes my blood pressure rise. No wonder finances are such a source of stress! Armed with these numbers we can easily conclude that improving your financial situation is a HUGE way to reduce stress.
I remember the stress in my own life and marriage before my husband and I determined we would get out of debt and take back control of our finances. We lost sleep over money, fought over money, and always thought that if we just had a little more money, all our problems would go away. For a long time, our coping method was denial. Not opening the bills and not checking our credit report regularly was an easy way to simply avoid the truth. Once we had a plan of attack, our debt did not seem quite as daunting and our stress levels decreased.
If you are one of the millions plagued by financial stress, there are some simple steps you can take for relief. You will not only improve your finances, but your health and body will thank you.
First, stop burying your head in the sand. It might seem like avoiding the money topic will keep the stress at bay, but the pressure only builds the longer you stay in denial. Open the bills, assess your total debt and see where you really stand.
Create a separate savings fund just for emergencies, even if you have debt. If you have a cushion in a dedicated account - say $1,000 - next time a true emergency arises, it will seem like less of a crisis and won't require a credit card.
Make an action plan based on your goals. If you are trying to get out of debt, start there with some visuals to get motivated. Perhaps you need to adjust your household spending. Learn to maximize coupons and make a menu plan. Small changes can add up to big savings, which will pay off in the long run.
The fastest way to eliminate financial stress is to tell your money where to go each month, on paper. Living within the confines of a budget may seem restrictive and boring, but it is truly freeing.
To get you started on the road to less stress, here are some additional resources you may enjoy:
Learn how to build a better budget this year.
Do some Financial Spring Cleaning.
Recommended Reading: The Total Money Makeover