Stress over money is no laughing matter. The American Psychological Association released the findings of a study in 2015 that showed 64% of Americans believe money is a noticeable source of anxiety. Parents, people in the 18 to 49 age group, and those in low-income households showed the greatest stress levels over financial matters but they weren’t alone. A separate 2015 study, a survey of investors, conducted by UBS showed that even in homes of affluence, the fear of losing everything was a debilitating concern.
That anxiety, across all income levels, translates to a host of other problems, including lack of sleep, high blood pressure, and elevated conflict between couples and families. Take a look at the four vital elements to achieve financial stability for a stress-free future.
Step 1: Educate Yourself
The stress that accompanies money worries impacts more than just your home-life. Workers who are anxious over money concerns lose sleep and are more prone to health issues like high blood pressure. To make matters worse, the majority of Americans receive an “F” on basic financial literacy tests and feeling helpless and confused when it comes to money only exacerbates the stress. This anxiety impacts your productivity and general amiability when it comes to working alongside teammates.
Step 2: Create a Solid Financial Plan
Knowledge is power. Much of the anxiety over money comes from a place of helplessness. It’s impossible to control things like the economy, the volatility of your job, or the housing market that impacts the worth of your home. It is possible, however, to learn more about what you can control, and that starts with an understanding of your current and future financial situation. This includes saving adequately for retirement and for your kids’ education. Experts also recommend you have two months’ worth of salary saved for emergency situations like job loss or unexpected medical leave. If you are paying your monthly bills and saving a bit for the big things, too, you should feel less anxious about your financial stability.
Studies show reveal that a simple $1000 emergency savings can significantly reduce a family’s financial stress level.
Step 3: Take Advantage of Workplace Programs and Benefits
Workplace financial literacy and wellness programs are a great way to stay ahead of your personal money matters and lower your stress both at home and in the workplace. Talk to your HR department about any financial education opportunities, or show them the benefits of investing in a program like the Financial Fitness solution.
You should also revisit your company’s 401k program, insurance options, childcare tax breaks, and HSA options. These are benefits that your company or the government has put in place to reduce financial stress.
Step 4: Give Back Either With Donations or Your Time
It may seem counterproductive to give away the money that you are stressing over, but by having a larger purpose for your earnings, you may actually feel more at ease. Earmark a dollar amount or percentage of your earnings for charities and nonprofit causes. You’ll get the financial advantage in tax savings, plus the intrinsic value that comes with philanthropy.
Professional Help & Moving Forward
A better grasp of your current financial situation will empower you to feel confident about the future. Have you ever thought about getting financial help? Try speaking with a financial advisor about how to make the most of your income and protect it from any unexpected hits it could take. These professionals can tell you if you are saving enough for retirement, a home, college, and emergencies. They can also look at your current spending and suggest ways to cut costs, including which debt to pay down first. If money worries are completely engulfing your life, hurting your relationships, and making you ill, talking with a therapist is another smart way to say what’s on your mind and get some reassurance.
Combine seeking professional financial help with educating yourself, making a money plan, taking advantage of work programs, and giving some of those earnings back to feel better about your financial path.