Money is often a taboo topic in many households, but the inability to talk about personal finance that seems inconsequential in childhood can lead to a lot of stress in adulthood. Not talking about money leaves you unaware of how to take care of your finances, and that lack of awareness creates a huge amount of stress.
We tend to fear what we can’t see or don’t know about, and our money matters are no different. If you want to reduce stress about money, the first step is to talk about it and understand what you’re dealing with. Here’s how to do it.
Get Your Head Into Your Wallet
Whether you’re flying solo or partnered up, knowing where you are financially is the most critical step toward reducing your stress about money.
Collect all your bills and add them up. Know what your total debt load is, including student loans, medical bills, credit card balances, your mortgage, and so on. Once you’re aware of exactly how much you owe and to whom, you’re practically enlightened.
There are no more surprises, and you’ve cut that source of stress off at the knees. And once you know what your current situation is, you can begin to tackle the problem areas.
Get Familiar With Your Options
If you’ve got debt you want to pay down, learn about the different approaches to debt payment. If you’ve got some disposable income but can’t figure out where any of it goes, learn about budgeting, spending plans, and savings accounts. If you’re ready to start putting away cash for retirement, college funds, or other investments, begin researching your options yourself and/or look for a financial planner.
Some of the best ways to educate yourself about money are blogs and podcasts. The content you’ll find is often produced for the average person with no background in finance, with a conversational tone that’s easy to follow and learn from.
Start reading the blogs and listening to podcasts to get used to hearing, thinking, and talking about money. (We list a few of our favorite personal finance blogs here.)
Once you know what your current issues are and how you want to address them, it’s time to get moving.
Set up a personal spending plan that moves you toward your new financial goals. Look for money management software, websites, and/or apps that make tracking your spending, saving, debt payments, and investments incredibly easy. Mint is one of our favorites.
Hire a financial advisor to help you set highly targeted goals, find the right investment approach, and answer all your questions.
Reducing Stress About Money
It’s not unusual to feel stressed about your finances, but you don’t have to live that way. Get aware of your situation, find ways to educate yourself about your options and best next steps, and then start taking action. By becoming proactive, you take control of your money instead of letting it control you.
About the Author: Ashley Gainer is a writer and coach who makes great content for entrepreneurs and small businesses and teaches other writers how to do the same. You can find her online at ashleygainer.com or on Twitter @ageditorial.