By Vera Wilson
It’s important for your finances to be in good standing — your mental and physical health depend on it!
A recent study reveals 90% of Americans say finances are a major source of frustration and anxiety, with most of us calling it our top stressor. Around 65% report that their money problems are so bad, they feel they can’t overcome them. Understandingly, feelings of this magnitude can cause depression, fear, and hopelessness, leading to struggles with our personal relationships and effectiveness at work.
Another troubling factor: Our financial circumstances complicate routine day-to-day tasks — should you pay your car registration before it’s late or get your dog his rabies shot instead? This long-term daily stress can negatively impact our overall physical health and can bring about insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive disorders — just to name a few.
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To get out of your financial rut, the study suggests taking “microsteps,” actions that are too-small-to-fail and promote healthy financial habits. Here are the highlights:
- Troublesome thoughts are more stressful if you try to avoid them. Writing down the fact that you’re two months late on your car payment — especially if it’s keeping you up at night — allows you to park it for now but makes it real and therefore actionable.
- Most people who are able to improve their financial situation turned to others for support and feedback. Identify someone you can talk to about your finances. Find a good listener who will sympathize with your challenges and offer guidance but won’t be judgmental.
- Break down a big financial goal into smaller, less intimidating steps so that you can celebrate achievements and track your progress.
- Review your finances at least monthly (with your partner, if you combine your money with theirs). Pinpoint any concerns and make course corrections if necessary.
- How many times have you missed a payment due date by just a day? Set calendar reminders on your phone or computer so a missed $25 payment doesn’t turn into a $39 late fee alongside a healthy dose of regret.
The study found “those most confident in their abilities to save and spend intelligently score nearly twice as high in overall well-being,” so get to work on your microsteps and go back and read previous editions of this column for more help.
Vera Wilson is freelance writer based in North Carolina. She frequently writes on financial topics.