So you want to achieve financial success? You and everybody else. But, if it were easy, we would all be finance pros by now. Unfortunately, building up your finances takes significant time and a genuine effort. And, for most people, doing just that can also be hugely stressful.
In fact, according to APA's latest Stress in America survey, 72 percent of Americans report feeling stressed out about money at least some of the time. Moreover, data from Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study also finds that money is the No. 1 cause of stress among Americans. In fact, it stressed out 44 percent of survey respondents — even more so than personal relationships (25 percent) and work (18 percent). Perhaps that is because over 20 percent of respondents had nothing at all saved up, and another 10 percent had less than $5,000 stowed away for the future.
So how do you overcome the stress and set yourself up for success? We talked to some money professionals about rules for achieving financial success.
"Feeling anxious about money is normal, but it’s also treatable,” Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning at Northwestern Mutual, told CNBC Make It. “Financial anxiety is just a part of life now, but we do know that when we have a good comprehensive financial plan, we can reduce that anxiety and bring that peace of mind.”
She recommended that people meet with financial advisors to do just that.
"So I think we all recognize that family can be both a critical source of support and well-being and also a source of stress for many people — and people with cohesive and supportive families tend to live healthier lifestyles and have better health than those who have less supportive families," Linda Gallo, PhD, told the American Psychological Association about dealing with money stress. "...Having good social support, having someone to talk about problems with, people who can provide help or guidance is very important to health. And that support can come from family members or friends and also from other sources like formal support groups or religious organizations. Overall, social support is an important resource for coping with stress and it's also more generally important for maintaining good health and well-being."
“Reframe our relationship with money so that we can reduce financial stress and achieve positive behavior changes,” Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, told CNBC Select.
In order to make more money or save money, you need to figure out where you are burning most of your money.
"One of the first steps in meeting the financial issues head-on is identifying exactly where the issue lies," award-winning money coach Mike Coady writes. "Many people avoid this step because they don’t want to know exactly how bad the situation is. However, it’s impossible to deal with the issue without understanding it completely. By cataloguing debt or building a budget, you can begin to understand the depths of your financial problems."
Only once you get to the root of your issue can you and your adviser design action items to solve your problem at hand, he explains.
"The adviser may be able to design a debt repayment plan or an automatic savings plan," he writes. "If your issues are the result of investment losses, the adviser could review your portfolio and possibly adjust it to a more appropriate allocation."
"Create extra sources of income," writes wellness coach Elizabeth Scott, MS, for VeryWellMind. "If you're feeling stressed about finances, you likely already feel you need more money in your budget. But knowing how to increase your financial holdings without creating significant stress for yourself can be tricky, too. Thankfully, there are several ways to boost your income and relieve your stress."
If you want to make more money, perhaps one of the first things you should consider is how to get a new job that will pay you more.
"This is the best way to boost your earnings, as you have the most leverage at the moment that a company wants you but isn’t sure whether it can get you," writes Laura Shin for Forbes. "Use that to your advantage in negotiations. Another benefit of getting a bump up when you switch jobs is that the percentage boost will be baked into all your future raises, elevating your lifetime earnings."
Budgeting is key. But, perhaps more important than budgeting is checking in with your budget every so often.
"Declutter your budget," Scott writes for VeryWellMind. "Since life is rarely constant, regular budget checkups are essential to improving your financial health. Take control of your finances by setting aside some time to schedule, organize, and declutter all of the money coming in and out of your bank account. The more control you have, the less stress you will feel."
"Money, health, relationships, and work are deeply interconnected; stress in any one of those domains can compound problems in the others," Dr. Moira Somers, Ph.D., C.Psych, a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in mental and financial well-being, said in a press release. "The COVID-19 pandemic has increased financial strain in many households — especially for those who have lost their job in a sector that may not fully recover. It's important to pivot and focus on actions that will restore financial well-being, such as developing or upgrading marketable skills. Taking proactive measures is a big step towards creating financial stability and confidence in the future."
"Find an app or bank account that takes the work out of saving," writes Courtney Jespersen for NerdWallet. "Digit and Qapital both automatically transfer small amounts from your checking account to a separate savings account."
When you do this every month, you may not even notice the money coming out of your checking account and going into your savings account. But a little bit can add up over time and go a long way.
"Map out major purchases," Jespersen write for NerdWallet. "Time your purchase of appliances, furniture, electronics and more according to annual sale periods. Don’t buy anything hastily, either. Always wait a day or two before buying to limit buyer’s remorse."
In other words: Don't shop on impulse. Think through your purchases before you drop the big bucks.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.
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