Financial stress is a very personal experience. And because dealing with money is so personal and emotional, even if we know what we should do, we are often challenged to overcome the barriers that keep us from getting started on a better path.
Here are twelve tips to help you break through barriers and overcome your financial stress today.
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Mindset Tips For Overcoming Financial Stress
1. Set a goal. Maybe your goal is to sock away six months of expenses in an emergency fund to protect against the unexpected. Or maybe your goal is to put your kids through college debt free. No matter your objectives, a clear purpose and a reminder of the payoff it will bring will help you stick with your goals.
2. It’s okay to ask for help. When dealing with our money, many of us are so afraid of making a mistake that we would rather not act at all, which only worsens the stress. The best way to deal with financial stress is to seek help from a trusted resource who can understand your specific concerns and show you the steps needed to address them. Having an expert at your back will give you the confidence to move forward. In the Sum180 App, you can Schedule a Chat with a Coach. A quick 15-minute chat is the first step to overcoming financial stress.
3. Start where YOU are. Many people do not make progress on their savings because they feel hopeless. The gap between where they are today and where they want to be is too big. But it’s never too late to start (or restart). When you walk into Weight Watchers with 80 pounds to lose, no one will talk about that. Instead, they’ll say, “Let’s talk about how to have a healthier lifestyle and begin to lose the first 5 pounds.” Dealing with money is just like that. Focus on your situation and set small, achievable goals to get started on what’s most important for you.
4. Take it one step at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It is essential to manage your expectations and to recognize that saving and building toward your goals will take time. When it comes to financial security, small successes add up.
5. Realize you are far from alone. Many of us still do not want to discuss money details openly, but honestly, everyone is working on something when it comes to their money mindset. The Sum180 financial wellness benefit includes online tools and coaching support to get your questions answered and empower you to move ahead.
Saving Tips to Silence Financial Stress
6. Pay off your credit cards like it’s your job. To really ease financial stress, work to pay off all your credit card balances.
Why? Interest on credit card debt is expensive – it’s usually two, three, or even four times more than other kinds of debt. So every penny you pay down on your credit card saves you a lot of money in the long run.
To do it, a few things have to work together:
>>> First, build a budget that covers your regular monthly expenses each month (including your minimum payments to credit cards) and creates some savings each month.
>>> Second, stick with your budget to avoid adding to credit card balances while paying them down.
>>>Third, split monthly savings between building your cash reserves/emergency funds and increasing your credit card payment over the minimum amount.
Increasing your payments to your credit cards will help get them paid down faster and save you interest in the long run. And adding to your cash reserve will help you cover those future unexpected expenses without having to put them on your credit card.
7. Get your emergency fund squared away. Unexpected expenses happen all the time (for example, replacing a tire, fixing the furnace, etc), but if you have cash reserves, you can absorb those shocks without getting off course.
How much is enough? Work to build your cash reserve to cover six months of expenses, and put it in a checking or savings account where you can access it if needed. Remember to replenish it if you draw from it. Once you’ve maintained that cash reserve for a while, begin to work toward a longer-term emergency fund to cover bigger life changes such as the loss of a job or medical situation/extended illness.
Ultimately, you’ll want enough in your emergency funds to cover 24 months of expenses. You’ll want to balance building your emergency fund against the previous tip – paying off your credit cards.
8. Save 10% of your income every year. Develop the habit of saving 10%. Then, no matter how much you earn, you will always be confident knowing you live within your means. This step is also what makes many other vital financial steps possible. For example, saving 10% will make it possible to save for a down payment for a house, a college fund for the kids, or save for your retirement. Think of saving 10% to ensure you can make ongoing investments in your financial health, year after year.
9. Protect your family with life insurance. If you’re married or have a child, ensure you have enough life insurance to protect your loved ones if something happens to you. To calculate the amount of the policy you need, determine how much support your family needs annually and multiply that by how many years they’ll need support. It’s a good idea to ensure that the policy term covers children through college.
10. Maximize your retirement savings contributions; no more excuses. Deep down, you know how important it is to save for retirement, and the longer you delay, the more anxious and stuck you feel. You’re also passing up benefits like lower income taxes and employer match (aka “free money”) to help you toward your goals.
How to break through? Focus on your dreams for the future – imagine the life you want for yourself and be inspired by that. Saving for retirement will feel less like a sacrifice and more like an empowering gift to your future self.
11. Once a year, do an insurance checkup to make sure you and your family are protected. Review your home, health, and auto insurance policies to ensure you have enough coverage to protect your savings and your family in medical, legal, or other emergencies. Other types of coverage to consider are identity theft coverage (which reimburses you for the costs of repairing your credit history if you become a victim) and umbrella liability coverage (which protects your assets beyond what your homeowners and auto policies already cover).
Manage Expenses to Overcome Financial Stress
11. Trim your expenses – especially the recurring ones. The flip side of boosting your savings is streamlining your expenses; the impact can be just as powerful.
An excellent place to start? Use the Track My Money feature in Sum180 to identify recurring expenses that you can trim – consider things like cell phone data, streaming services, and subscriptions. Once you’ve got your list, contact providers to see if you can get a better deal or cancel.
You can downsize your home, car, wardrobe, and lifestyle. And as you reexamine your “needs,” you may discover that you can do with much less than you thought. As a result, you can free up resources and put your energy towards more gratifying endeavors.
Support Employee Financial Wellness With Sum180
Help your employees overcome financial stress, with step-by-step support, like the tips above, and the tools that are part of Sum180.
An engaging and intuitive, personalized mobile experience, Sum180 gives users an immediate budget, educational how-to’s, the ability to link and view all their accounts, and access to a live coach for questions and planning support.
Start by scheduling a call today to learn more about how Sum180 can help your employees overcome financial stress.
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