By Angela Brandt
NEW YORK (MoneyTalksNews)—All of us suffer from a bit of finance-induced stress. Even Snoop Dogg reportedly has his mind on his money and his money on his mind.
Being cognizant of your finances is vital. But worrying about your cash flow won't do anything to increase it.
Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has five tips to help ease financial stress. Watch the video and then read on for more detail.
The top three causes of stress are financially driven, according to the American Psychological Association's most recent poll. They are:
- Money – 69 percent worry about this.
- Work – 65 percent.
- The economy – 61 percent.
Other top instigators include relationships, family responsibilities and health.
Stress can cause many physical symptoms such as headaches and back pain. Those ailments can lead to loss of work hours and more money spent on doctoring. Here are Stacy's tips to help end the stress cycle.
1. Know what you have and what you owe
Make note of your income and assets. Then make a list of all of your debts. Are you keeping yourself in the dark about the amount of debt you have? It's commonly said that the first step is admitting you have a problem. You can't come up with a plan to retire those debts if you don't know the amounts and the interest rates.
Realization — even if your situation is somewhat precarious — should help relieve some of the anxiety of not knowing where you stand.
2. Track what you earn and spend
About 19 percent of Americans polled said they spend more than their income, a recent survey by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation found. That's got to be stressful. Those who spend equal to their income totaled 36 percent.
Are you in one of those groups or one of the 41 percent who spend less than their take-home pay? You'll have a much better idea if you keep tabs on both your income and expenses. We suggest a free money-managing tool such as PowerWallet.
3. Set attainable, positive goals
Everyone needs something to work toward, to look forward to — whether it's paying off all credit card debt in two years or retiring by age 50.
But how do you know your goals will keep you engaged long enough to reach them? Stacy suggests selecting goals that reflect your core values — what's really important to you. He wrote:
Before you set Goal One, brainstorm. About what you want from life. About who you are. About what really makes you happy. This is the first step to getting it. And just as important, it's going to expose how you're now wasting time, money, and energy on stuff you really don't care about.
Once you know what you want from life and set some goals, it's a lot easier to channel your precious income in those directions rather than blowing it on things that aren't as important.
Stay positive too. Forbes says the power of positive thinking will extend into your financial future. Focus on what is working, not failing, and then improve from there. "Like athletes who get their head in the game – cultivating a challenge mindset and a willingness to engage with your stressors helps with job performance, personal financial worries and fears about future success," the magazine adds.
That was also a top strategy used by those polled by the APA. The majority – 62 percent – said focusing on the positive was their best tactic to battle stress.
4. Get an app for that
The less you spend managing your money, the less stressful your life will be. So use the tools you have available: direct deposit, automatic and online bill pay, and expense tracking tools like PowerWallet.
It's stressful to see papers piled everywhere. When your bills come in, pay them. When you need to keep something, scan it. If you don't, shred it and forget it.
And use simple, quick online searches to make sure you're getting the best mortgage rate, credit card deal, insurance premiums, and rates on your savings accounts: Check out our Money Makeover.
5. Answer your questions
If you don't know the answer, do some research. Money Talks News, for one, is filled with explanations of the best saving and spending tactics, along with more in-depth discussions on topics like retirement and investing. Some examples:
- How Much Should You Contribute to Your 401(k)?
- Beginning Stock Investor? Here's All You Need to Know
- The 10 Commandments of Wealth and Happiness
Overall, the APA offers this advice:
Take stock of your particular financial situation and what causes you stress. Write down specific ways you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your finances more efficiently. Then commit to a specific plan and review it regularly. Although this can be anxiety-provoking in the short term, putting things down on paper and committing to a plan can reduce stress. If you are having trouble paying bills or staying on top of debt, reach out for help by calling your bank, utilities or credit card company.
How are you dealing with money worries and stress in your life? Share on our Facebook page.
Sign up for our free newsletter
Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's '205 Ways to Save Money' as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn't cost a dime, so why wait?Click here to sign up now.