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When you hear that you may need more than $1 million in savings to retire comfortably, or that you should have six months of living expenses as an emergency cash reserve, it's likely your financial anxieties may spike a bit -- especially if you have little savings, no retirement accounts and several thousand dollars in credit card debt.
If your money worries are already at a high level, you are not alone. According to a 2012 report from the American Psychological Association (APA), 75 percent of Americans report money as a significant source of stress.
"Don't get overwhelmed and do nothing but worry," says certified public accountant and former IRS tax attorney, Sandy Botkin, author of "Achieve Financial Freedom -- Big Time!"
Instead, Botkin says to simply get started. "Take financial action today," he says. "Sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes."
Below are five of his suggestions on how you can reduce money worries, starting today.
1. Track your spending
"You can't save money if you don't know where you are spending it," cautions Botkin. But, in about 20 minutes, you can set up a free online budget tracking service.
Once you see how and where you are spending your money, decide which expenses are absolutely necessary (needs) and which are not (wants) -- a very important distinction, says Botkin. Choose the expenses most important to you and make a conscious decision today to cut the rest.
"You really can have anything you want -- just not all at once," says Botkin.
2. Start the saving process via automatic transfers
If you live paycheck to paycheck and have little or no cash savings, start building a cash
emergency fund to protect you from turning to credit cards or payday loans when unforeseen payments, bills or emergencies hit, says Botkin.
Saving money takes willpower. Another 2012 APA study found that while financial resolutions were second only to weight-loss goals among Americans, lack of willpower was one of the major barriers to achieving those goals.