Most Americans worry about money: rising costs, stagnant wages, increasing debt, having enough to retire, banks going broke and staggering medical bills are the nightmares that keep us awake at night. How can you keep the shadow of money worry away?
Make a Plan
It’s nearly impossible to stop worrying about the unknown. While you can never know if the stock market will crash tomorrow, you can reasonably predict the in- and outflow of money in your household. If you don’t have a budget or at least a good idea of your monthly costs, you’re worrying about the monster in the closet and refusing to open the door to look. Make a plan to address your specific worry, whether paying down debt, financing your child’s education, or saving for retirement. By really analyzing your financial situation, you’ve taken control and brought the monster down to life size.
If you worry about the catastrophic – and really, who doesn’t once in a while – make reasonable preparations and nothing more. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and an emergency fund will get you through ninety-eight percent of emergencies. Buying too much life insurance, insuring electronics or building a bomb shelter in your basement is probably too much. End the anxiety by being prepared, but don’t fall victim to overpreparation.
Reducing End-of-the-Month Panic
Late payments affect your credit score and often result in extra fees, so getting in control of your bills is key to financial confidence. If you can pay your bills on the same day every month, even if they are due later in the month, can help you make sure you don’t forget one. Automatic bill pay is a great option for the forgetful, and many creditors offer incentives and discounts since they know you’ll pay your bill.
Set Aside Time
Don’t let money be a constant, mindless worry in the back of your mind that you’ll get in order “sometime soon.” Set aside time to take care of financial duties like checking your account online, balancing your checkbook, updating your budget and reviewing investment opportunities. Make it an appointment you can’t miss, as if you were going to the dentist or the doctor’s office. You can find relief from specific concerns by using this time to address them objectively and ease your overall level of stress over finances.
Review your Progress
If you’ve taken the time to put your finances in order and still have doubts, reassess your approach. The nagging worry may mean that there’s an aspect that still makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you would like to have more emergency savings or pay off your debt sooner. Make the change if it makes financial sense and put your fears to rest. If you’re comfortable with your plan, reviewing it will remind you that you are on the right track. You may continue to fear a stock market crash or the next great recession, but you probably also fear spiders, heights or confined spaces. What’s important is overcoming your fear so that you are in control.