Money Talks: How to Create More Financial Security
Finances often top the list when it comes to sources of stress and anxiety. In recent studies, as many as 50-60 percent of Americans report feeling anxious or stressed when thinking about or discussing their personal finances. And it’s easy to see why! Financial security plays a critical role in our physical, mental, and emotional well-being, so concerns about money can feel huge and overwhelming. But while certain factors—food and gas prices, housing costs, the state of the economy—are out of our individual control, there are lots of ways to get a hold of your finances—and your stress!
Know your numbers
When it comes to your finances, ignorance does not lead to bliss. Without a clear picture of where you and your family stand financially, it’s hard to tweak problem areas, increase your savings, or make long-term financial plans. The first step in gaining, and maintaining, control of your finances is to know your numbers. That includes your monthly income, your monthly expenditures, your level of debt, and your credit score. Check-in on these factors at least once per month so you can keep track and avoid any unwelcome surprises.
Once you have a clear picture of your finances, it’s time to set some priorities for your money. Just like losing weight or learning a new skill, changing your financial status won’t happen overnight. And if you try to tackle too much at once, it can be easy to get overwhelmed or burnt out.
Decide which financial goals are most important to you. Do you want to pay down credit card debt or pay off a loan? Are you saving to buy a home or a car? Are you starting to plan for your child’s college fund or for retirement? Do you want to start investing to diversify your income? Knowing what goals are most important will give you a starting point and help you avoid biting off more than you can chew.
Finally, when thinking about your financial goals, remember to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Make a Plan
Now you know where you are currently with your finances and where you want to go. The next step is to create a plan—a roadmap to your financially secure future. Creating a budget may not sound like much fun, but it’s a critical part of money management. A plan will help you make sure you fund your priorities first, whether that be saving for retirement, starting a house fund, or paying down debt. And it doesn’t have to be complicated! You can use a simple spreadsheet or a budget app like Mint to track money coming in and going out, how much you allocate to categories like rent/mortgage, childcare, food, transportation, and entertainment, and how much to use toward debt or put into savings or investments each month.
Get professional help
If tackling your finances feels too overwhelming, don’t be afraid to reach out for help! Your EAP offers a range of financial solutions, including educational resources and personal telephonic sessions with qualified financial counselors. These counselors can help you better understand your financial situation and different financial tools, come up with a budget or a plan for paying down debt or increasing savings, and improving your credit.
Other key financial professionals you can reach out to include tax professionals and investment advisors.
You may not be able to reach your financial goals overnight, but you won’t reach them at all if you never take the first step! So start today, and before you know it, your bank account and your stress levels will both be healthier.
There will always be economic factors that are out of our control. But by taking small steps now, rather than leaving your money up to fate, you can better ensure a financially secure future.
WORKPLACE SOLUTIONS is a group of dedicated professionals who provide assistance and resources to individuals and families to create a satisfying and meaningful life. We’re counselors, attorneys, financial professionals, and experienced specialists in a wide variety of fields. Because life’s challenges and opportunities show up in a range of different areas, we provide assistance in a number of different ways.