How to Stress Less About Money: 6 Simple Steps
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Being busy all the time and having a complex life is not all it’s cracked up to be especially when it comes to your finances. I know quite a few people who shy away from making an effort to manage their money properly because it seems like it adds a lot of stress.
You have to track your spending, create a budget, stick to that budget and adjust it periodically; set financial goals; find a way to be more frugal; monitor your credit; remember to pay all your bills; keep an eye on your investments; the list can go on and on and it can get quite stressful when it really should be simple.
Believe it or not, managing your money can be fun and motivating, not stressful and something you dread doing. If managing your finances has become a tedious and mundane task, here six ways to simplify and take the stress out of this responsibility.
Link Your Accounts Together
Most accounts can be managed online these days whether it’s personal bills or a checking account with your bank, which is great because I can’t stand holding onto paper. When you have different credit cards, a few savings accounts, a business account and a regular checking account plus other accounts for debt like student loans, things can get a little confusing.
This is why I recommend using a free app or online tool like Personal Capital to link all your accounts together and streamline the entire process of checking up on your accounts and staying organized.
Personal Capital not only allows you to see all your accounts in one place, it also helps you track your net worth and provides full advisory services to users with at least $25,000 in investable assets. It analyzes certain fees you pay so you can consider reducing them, provides timely reminders for when bills are due and more. You can read a full review of the app here.
Get Rid of Any Services, Offers or Expenses You Don’t Really Need
When was the last time you did a clean sweep of all the services and expenses you no longer use? The last time I did this, I found out I was paying a fee to a credit card company practically for nothing. Granted it was small, it was a hassle to remember each month so I asked about getting rid of it. When you have less expenses, you often have less things to worry about paying.
When it comes to receiving offers in the mail and emails, sometimes I just can’t stand it. One thing I found helpful was unsubscribing from email offers from financial companies I wasn’t interested in and banks who were trying to offer me credit cards I didn’t want. If you have a ton of email like me and don’t know where to start, you can sign up for a free service like Unroll.me.
This app helps clean out your inbox and it unsubscribes you from junk email lists and organizes the emails you do want, which can be a good option if you’ve gone paperless with most of your financial accounts.
Set Up Automatic Payments
If you are already financially stable, you should be able to free yourself from the anxiety of wondering if you’ve paid all the bills on time or if you forgot about something. I keep a spreadsheet of my entire monthly budget and list of expenses along with when certain bills are due as a back up, but I chose to set up automatic payments for a lot of my expenses.
With my student loan payment, setting up automatic payments actually helped lower my interest rate. Setting up recurring monthly payments can often be done via your online banking platform or directly with a biller.
Consolidate Retirement Accounts
Many people change employers throughout their careers which can leave them with numerous 401(k) plans. You can actually consolidate your retirement plans from previous employers and roll them into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or to your current employer’s retirement plan.
That way, you can manage your existing retirement fund in one place and continue to reap the benefits of your current 401(k) if you have a traditional employer that offers one. If you need an online broker to roll an old 401(k) to, check out our list of best online brokerages.
set fewer goals to relieve stress
I used to be a big goal-setter. I would set several overarching financial goals and either celebrate when I reached them or beat myself up when I failed. Regardless of the outcome, working toward the financial goals was a stressful process.
I learned that there’s nothing wrong with setting impressive goals, but setting too many can become harmful because you can’t achieve everything at once.
Since then, I’ve limited the amount of strict goals I set for myself each year. I still set smaller short and long-term goals all the time, but I don’t feel the pressure as much. Either way, don’t stress yourself out about it. As long as you’re moving forward, that’s what matters.
Pay Off Debt
Paying off your debt is easier said than done. It can be an intense process but the less debt you have, the simpler your financial situation will be.
There is more than one way to pay off debt. First, clarify what your priorities are and whether you should aggressively pay off your debt or focus on other areas of your finances first. Then, stick to a strategy and specify which debt you will attack first in order to dig yourself out of the hole.
Even if you have a mixture of student loans, credit card debt and a car loan, if you work on paying down your credit card debt within a few months for example, that will be one less thing you have to worry about. If you have multiple outstanding debts, it can pay to consolidate them into one loan to simplify repayment and save money. This can be done through online lenders like Lightstream, which help you consolidate debt into one loan and shave 10 percent or more off your current interest rates.
As you can see, managing your finances doesn’t have to be a stressful hassle if you put some convenient systems and processes in place. Feel free to automate as much as you can, but don’t forget to check in periodically to make sure everything is going well.
How do you simplify the way you manage your finances? When you find yourself stressing over money, how do you relieve the pressure? Do too many goals lead you to inaction? How do you motivate yourself to reach your financial goals?