About the author: Lamar Watson, CFP®, is a Fee-Only Financial Advisor in the Washington, D.C. area that works with clients virtually across the country. Lamar's work with his clients focuses on budgeting, employee benefits, paying down debt, buying their first home, and investing. Lamar is the Founder of Dream Financial Planning, a virtual Fiduciary Financial Planning firm specifically designed to help young professionals and minorities take control of their finances and fulfill their dreams. Feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn how we use the DREAM Financial Planning Process ™ to help our clients achieve their goals.
Money is the second leading cause of stress amongst adults.1 If you find yourself worried about your financial wellbeing, you're not alone - and there are things you can do to make it better. Financial stress can stop even the most productive people in their tracks, causing sleepless nights, avoidance of debt, and denial. While it's best to talk to your financial professional about what's on your mind, here are a few tips to start managing your stress on your own.
Tip #1: Make a To-Do List
Sometimes the most effective techniques are the simplest. When it comes to overcoming your financial stress, start by putting your to-do list in writing. Creating a clear list of what’s ahead can help it feel more tangible and doable. If you can, start with the easiest tasks and slowly work through your list, checking things off one by one. With a to-do list in front of you, there’s no need to bear the burden of remembering everything in your head. Starting with a list of tasks can help you more effectively build a plan of action.
Tip #2: Try Talking to Someone
While working with a Financial Planner is recommended, it can still help to open up to a family member or friend in the meantime. Keeping everything bottled up and to yourself is only going to escalate your anxiety. If you’re able to, talk it out with someone you trust and be honest. Discussing your problems can ease the burden significantly. Your friend or family member may even have some advice to offer or a financial advisor to recommend.
Tip #3: Review Your Spending Habits
Ignoring the situation may be tempting, but putting your financial obligations off will only make them worse. While some financial issues are more complicated than others, taking stock of your current situation can help build a better understanding of where you are today and what needs to happen. This often starts with adjusting your spending and saving habits. When it comes to addressing your current spending habits, there are a few things you can do right away:
- List out every income source you currently have
- Determine your debts (student loans, car payments, credit card debt, etc.)
- Keep track of all your spending manually or using a phone app
- Identify potential spending patterns or triggers (when you’re stressed, right after payday, etc.)
- Determine what changes you can make to your average spending to save more
- Avoid impulse spending
Tip #4: Make a Plan and Create a Monthly Budget
Creating and tracking a monthly budget is a great way to get in the habit of healthier spending - and healthier spending habits mean less financial stress.
To get started on creating your monthly budget, start by:
- Listing out recurring expenses such as gas, groceries, utilities, etc.
- Prioritize contributing to your emergency fund each month
- Set up automatic payments to avoid late fees or interest
- Determine where you may be able to cut down on spending (entertainment, clothes, etc.)
Tip #5: Establish a College Savings Plan
If you have a young one at home, paying for college is likely looming over your head. To ease this large financial burden, take the time now to establish or check up on your 529 plan. This tax-advantaged savings plan is designed to encourage saving for future education costs (such as tuition, room, and board, etc.). You and other family members can contribute to the account, which will gain interest over time as you set aside funds to pay for a child or grandchild’s education.
Getting your finances in order is no easy feat. Identifying your main stressors and establishing a plan to address them can make a big difference in how you and your family feel about your finances. If you’re feeling lost, confused, or overwhelmed, don’t forget to reach out to a trusted financial professional who can help make sense of your current financial situation.
Dream Financial Planning Process ™
Whether you're managing student loan debt, starting a family, or considering buying your first home, the DREAM Financial Planning Process™ is tailored to the unique needs of busy professionals in their 30s and 40s. This process focuses more on short-term goals while you grow and evolve in your personal and professional life. If you're looking for guidance on Financial Planning, optimizing employee benefits, budgeting, student loans, and managing your 401k or investments, we can help.
With uncertainty surrounding the economic stability of our country, it's okay to have fears and anxieties surrounding your own savings and investments. The most productive course of action from here is to reach out to Dream Financial Planning (or whoever your trusted advisor might be) and discuss your options. It's easy to have knee-jerk reactions when it feels like the bottom is falling out, but it is imperative to make decisions using research-backed data and a level head. If you'd like a Complimentary Review and risk assessment of your investment portfolio, feel free to send me an e-mail.
If you're looking for guidance on your investments, you'll want to read this month's Newsletter. In my April Newsletter, I discuss Gamestop, market speculation, long-term investment returns, and 9 investing mistakes you should avoid.
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