5 Steps Toward Modernizing Your Financial Statements

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Money -- or more specifically, the lack of it -- is the largest stress trigger out there today.

The American Psychological Association should know -- it's been studying the issue of Americans and stress for years. Its latest study, Stress in America, reports that money is a "top source" of anxiety for U.S. adults, beating out the workplace by 69% to 65%.

It also seems like Americans just can't get out of their own way when it comes to managing money, and worrying about managing money.

From the study:

Americans set financial goals in 2012 -- more than half (52%) said that they planned to save more money, and 37% reported a goal to pay off debt -- yet more than one-quarter said that willpower (27%) or time (26%) were barriers preventing them from making changes.

One proven way to reduce all that stress is to organize your financial records. A squeaky-clean financial house is a house where stress may find it's not welcome, experts say.

"Money stresses people out because it is the vehicle that allows you makeimportant decisions, and if you do not have all the relevant information,those decisions can seem more challenging than they are in reality," says David Benskin, chief executive of Wealth Access, a Nashville, Tenn., wealth management technology services firm.

Unfortunately, Americans don't carry over their world-famous work ethic from the office to the home, and to their personal financial record keeping, Benskin says.

"People tend to work harder to make money than they do to manage and organize their portfolio," he says. "But if you don't understand what you have -- no matter what your net worth -- it is that much more difficult to plan for retirement, send your kids to college, ensure that you have a comprehensive estate plan and generally, take care of the whole range of decisions that people are actually stressed about."

Wealth Access has stepped up to the plate with a list of basic and effective ways to "modernize" your financial statements. Do them and see if you can't melt some of that financial stress out of your life:

Step 1. Collaboration: Work with your financial advisers and other trusted professionals (including lawyers, your tax adviser and your insurance agent) to organize your financial data. Having a way for those professionals to upload your data to you -- and for you to download your data to them -- is a big time-saver, and it gathers all your financial records in one place.

Step 2. Visibility: Store those financial records coming in from myriad sources in one, easy-to-access place. "Having multiple assets -- and liabilities -- in different places is difficult," Benskin says. "Aim for an instant snapshot that can't be accomplished with different paper statements and various financial information coming in from various sources.".

Step 3. Reduce Risk: Using technology enables a financial consumer to know what they have, what they owe and where it is at any time, reducing concentrations in holdings, tax liabilities and improving cash liquidity. That should help keep the anxiety at bay when stock markets roil or you're dealing with a cash crunch.

Step 4. Control: You always want to own and control your own data and to control who has access to your information and how much of it they can access. "But there's a big caveat here," Benskin says. "You have to make sure your information isn't being shared or sold to third parties."

Step 5. Mobility: Modernizing your financial statements is not just about being able to physically see your credit card statements and other financial details on a tablet. It's more about pulling data out of one program and dropping it into another; or exporting your information from your checking account to conduct a cash flow analysis on your assets and liabilities to your other liabilities and assets. In short, you want to move your financial data around as needed and in a timely and efficient fashion.

Organizing -- or as Wealth Access puts it, "modernizing" -- your financial statements can be your first step in alleviating financial stress. Take that step and you may leave money anxiety behind for good.

More from Personal Finance

'Worn-out' Shoemakers Still Have a Chance to Heal

'Worn-out' Shoemakers Still Have a Chance to Heal

Summer Travel: The Best Places to Visit in the U.S.

Summer Travel: The Best Places to Visit in the U.S.

9 Best Investment Books for Beginners

9 Best Investment Books for Beginners

How to Calculate Your Net Worth and Pin Down Your Financial Health

How to Calculate Your Net Worth and Pin Down Your Financial Health

The Best States for Millennials' Money and Health

The Best States for Millennials' Money and Health