Take a Deep Breath and Make These Money Moves to Reduce Financial Stress
The mere mention of money changes emotions in a room pretty fast. People become uncomfortable quickly, sometimes with audible groans.
Unfortunately, you cannot run away from money issues. You have to sit down and look at all those numbers you have been avoiding at some point. For many people, a visit to the dentist seems like a more pleasant affair.
Luckily, getting a handle on your money is simple. Yes, simple but not easy. The devil is in the details. Like with most things in life, facing the facts makes the journey easier.
Here are simple steps you can take today to make your money journey stress-free:
Review and track your budget
How much do you make and spend? Your answer to the question establishes a baseline to guide financial decisions.
As a golden rule of thumb: Spend less than you earn. Otherwise, you end up living paycheck to paycheck, continually worrying about unexpected events.
Knowing how much you make and spend helps you identify areas to cut back and save. For example, do you need that cable subscription? What about all those takeout meals?
Money compounds. Those small amounts add up pretty quickly over time. The sooner you understand what happens to your money, the better decisions you make moving forward. So, crunch those numbers.
Start an emergency fund
Step two, start an emergency fund if you don’t have one already.
An emergency fund, “rainy day fund,” “opportunity fund,” or whatever you decide to call it, gives your finances some breathing room. It empowers you to react to emergencies, such as your car unexpectedly breaking down, without resorting to debt.
Sadly, nearly three in ten American adults have no emergency savings at all.
You can escape that dire statistic. Start small and keep saving until you hit $1000 – a safe start for most basic emergencies. Over time, grow your emergency to cover at least 3-6 months of your annual expenses.
Cut down debt
Debt is like an anchor grounding you in place and dragging your progress. It’s incredibly toxic during challenging economic periods, like the Covid19 pandemic. Why? Because you must honor your obligations even when you have no job or income.
As such, avoid debt whenever you can. Also, always pay any debt obligations on time. Whether it’s your credit card debt or mortgage payments, make all the payments on time to avoid negative listings because they impact your credit score.
So, how do you cut down on debt?
- Eliminate unnecessary expenditure and direct the savings towards reducing debt
- Tackle your most expensive debts first and then
- Work your way through the remaining debts from the smallest to the largest, also called the “Snowball method.”
- Negotiate and refinance loans if you can get lower rates
- Gradually eliminate credit cards to just one or none to avoid debt temptations.
Save and invest
- Experts advise to save first and then spend the remaining income, also known as the “Pay yourself first” principle. Whenever you receive a paycheck, allocate a portion to savings first. You can set up automatic transfers from your checking to a savings account to simplify the process.
At the same time, allocate a portion of your income towards investments. For instance, investing in an index fund that tracks the market allows you to benefit from any upward trends and dividends.
Plan for retirement
Retirement draws nearer every day, whether you like it or not. So, plan for it. For instance, financial expert Daniella Rand recommends determining your retirement needs and learning about pension plans as part of your strategy.