Financial stress is all too real these days. Opening your bank or credit card statements can feel like an exercise in humiliation when you have a lot of debt, or a $0 balance in your savings account. Because of the stress we may feel with our money, it becomes very comfortable to just ignore the problems we may be having.
But the truth is, if you want to live well, retire comfortably, and feel content with your finances, then you have to face them head-on. The good news is, we promise it doesn’t have to be difficult, and you’ll feel SO much better once you take those first steps. Here are some basic strategies to face your financial stress head-on. You got this!
If you’re having trouble figuring out which budget is right for you, or deciding how to best invest your 401(k), it’s OK to ask for help. There are countless financial advisors, planners and coaches available to get you on track. At HerMoney, we offer two unique courses: The FinanceFixx budgeting course, which is an 8-week budgeting course designed to help you gain control of your financial habits, and get on a path to saving more, ASAP, and there’s the InvestingFixx investing club for women, which meets every two weeks throughout the year to parse Wall Street lingo and inspire women to be come smarter, better investors.
There are also financial advisors or planners who can help you create a budget, explain your weak points and create an investment plan. Look for a fee-only Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who will always have a fiduciary responsibility to do what’s best for you, not what will earn them a bigger fee since they charge a flat rate instead of working for commission. You can find a licensed advisor through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, or at CFP.net.
Before your appointment, make a list of the issues you’re facing and any questions you have. These can include how to pay your student loans, how to tackle that $5,000 hospital bill, or how to save for your first home or retirement.
You can also look to find an accountability partner, like a friend or family member. Pick someone who you trust who may also be facing financial issues, or who has successfully tackled them before. You can create weekly or monthly check-ins and discuss your progress over email, in person, or even via text. Having an accountability partner will make it harder to avoid your finances since you’ll be reporting to someone.
Forgive Yourself Easily
When you’ve spent years or months hiding from your finances, facing them can feel like an impossible ordeal, especially if you set unrealistic expectations for yourself. But try to stay positive. Emily Guy Birken, author of “End Financial Stress Now,” says she looks at financial management like cooking: Just because you forget to add a crucial ingredient or overcook the chicken doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be a bad cook the rest of your life.
“Any individual financial mistake might ruin your day (or week or longer), but it is not an overall indication that you are bad with money or that you are not learning how to improve,” she says. “The only way to truly entrench a problem with money… is to give up on learning because you are afraid.”
In other words, it’s never too late to turn your financial life around, and start saving and investing to secure a future you can be proud of.
Trying to make a budget, but stuck on how to do so? Interested in starting an IRA for retirement, but not sure which funds to choose?
Thankfully, countless popular apps can help you answer those questions in just a few clicks. HerMoney fan favorites include YouNeedABudget (YNAB), or Empower, both of which can help you track your spending.
Finally, robo-advisors may be a good solution for beginning investors who don’t want to hire anyone to manage their portfolio. Robo-advisors ask a series of questions to determine users’ risk tolerance and retirement timeline before coming up with a semi-customized plan. Try Acorns or Betterment to get started. Just know that while most robo-advisors have low minimum deposits and fees, that’s not always the case. Be sure to do your research to choose the right tool for your needs.
Ultimately, when it comes to personal finance, you’re almost always better off doing something — no matter how small — than doing nothing. Hiding in fear in the hopes that your financial situation will change itself is not a plan. Begin taking action, and small gains will help keep you motivated for the long term.
MORE ON HERMONEY:
- Best Budgeting Tips For Your 20s and 30s
- 5 Strategies to Start Repaying Your Student Loans and Become Debt Free
- 5 Shrewd Secrets from Women Who’ve Fixed Credit, Paid Debt, and Made Fortunes