7 Smart tips to help fight financial stress
Don't let money woes get you down. Use our tips to help give your bottom line — and your outlook — a welcome boost.
If you're like 75 percent of Americans today,* you're stressed about money. And if you happen to be digging yourself out of a financial hole right now, chances are your health is suffering, too. Prolonged stress can cause irritability, anger, fatigue, depression, insomnia and numerous other ailments.
Take steps to turn your situation around with these tips:
- Face the facts. Stress is often magnified when you speculate on your circumstances instead of tackling them head on. Rather than ignore the problem as it grows worse, get an exact read of where you are right now and build from there.
- Know where your money goes. Track every expense whether it's a tank of gas or a utility bill or a bagel. Most people are surprised when they see what they spend — and how much goes to nonessentials.
- Create a budget. Based on the expenses you've tracked, make a realistic, uncomplicated budget that you'll be able to stick with.
- Pay with cash. Put your credit cards away, and pay only with cash. This can help reduce costly impulse buys. And make paying off high-interest consumer debt a top priority in your financial recovery.
- Set specific goals with actionable steps. A goal that's too vague — "I don't want to have to worry about money" — won't inspire action. Set clear goals, decide how you're going to achieve them and give yourself a time frame for making them happen.
- Make saving a priority. Regardless of where you are right now financially, your retirement will still be waiting for you down the road. Continue contributing something to retirement savings — even $20 a week adds up to more than $1,000 by year's end — then contribute more as your situation turns around.
- Take care of yourself. Poor health can be costly. Invest in yourself to help keep stress at bay. Take long walks, practice meditation or deep breathing and eat healthy foods to help you feel your best.
Get the help you need
Take the first step toward turning your financial situation around. Get assistance from a financial professional to map out a plan for retirement.
Use our budgeting calculators to determine how much money you could save by creating a sound budget.
* American Psychological Association, Stress in AmericaTM: Our Health at Risk (PDF: 3.2MB), January 2012