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As much as we don’t want money to be such a powerful force that determines so much of our lives, the fact is it does. But there is a lot of money’s power that we can take back and place in our own hands with conscious decision making, clear goals and an attitude of a responsible adult who refuses to keep up with the facade of the Jones’. The goal is peace of mind. As mentioned before when defining what true wealth is, peace of mind is something that can’t be purchased, but it can be managed and thus created.
Here are a few ways to reduce the stress that money may be creating in your life:
1. Educate yourself and understand what you should be doing with your money (savings, retirement, what percentage of your paycheck should go towards mortgage/rent, insurance, etc) – visit my bookstore for a list of money books with sound advice that I highly recommend and have found useful, visit a list of all of my money posts for direction on where to get started, or click here for a list of authors, shows, magazines and websites to visit.
“True economy consists in always making the income exceed the out-go.” – P.T. Barnum
2. Create a Budget (and stick to it!)
By creating a budget, you are first determining how much you bring in on a monthly basis and then from there determining what bills you have and if need be, reducing or eliminating certain bills so that you are able to live comfortably and sleep soundly at night knowing your bills are paid and you’re not overdrawn.
3. Pay bills on time.
Schedule a financial date with yourself (and your spouse if applicable) to sit down, pay the bills and get a clear picture of where you are financially so that you don’t overspend and also to make sure you are progressing toward your goals. While it may be frustrating initially as you realize you won’t be able to go out to dinner as much as you had planned or purchase that new Reiss dress you had your eye on, the feeling of knowing you are making positive steps in the right direction is a lasting reason to celebrate. After all, there will always be dresses to buy and restaurants to dine out at, but your financial good health needs to be established first so you can truly enjoy yourself while sipping that delicious glass of Bordeaux.
4. Walk away and think about it before purchasing
There have been many times where I have saved myself unnecessary bills by simply walking away and thinking about a purchase before simply wiping out my debit card (which is exactly what the store/salesman and economy would like you to do). Do yourself a favor and walk away. If it is gone when you come back, it wasn’t meant to be and your checking/savings account will thank you.
5. Eliminate the Emotion
While yes, you may fall in love with a dress, you must remove the emotions when it comes to money. To not do so will only hurt your future and erode your peace of mind. If a friend asks for money (and while you may want to help because you care for them), if you are not financially able to do it, then you must say no. By removing the emotional component, you take back control of something that should always be in your control – simple math.
6. Create a Plan to Pay off your Debt
If you have more than one credit card to pay off, begin paying the most money you can afford on the card with the highest APR and only make the minimum payments on the remaining cards until the first one is paid off. Also, consider transferring your balance to another credit card that offers no interest for one or two years while you work on paying down your debt. Make a specific plan, stick to it and it will eventually be paid off – you can do it.
7. Understand the Current Economy
Just as being educated on the fundamentals of good money management is imperative for reducing stress, so too is understanding what is going on in the economy currently and how it affects you so that you can take advantage of situations and also avoid pitfalls. (The Economist is a great magazine and website for staying up-to-date on a weekly basis without having to watch the television.)
Please do sure other ways you have found that reduce your stress when it comes to money.