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Simple steps to calm the financial jitters

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Financial anxiety can be conquered...here are four ways to do it.

Posted October 6, 2010



Got a case of the financial jitters? You’re not alone. A recent survey of 1,000 American adults by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and “Kiplinger’s Personal Finance” magazine found that most Americans are still struggling with or worried about their finances.

The Thrivent Financial/Kiplinger Survey of Family Finances revealed that half of all men and nearly two-thirds of all women said that “struggle” or “worry” best summarizes their financial situation today. It also found that the challenges most likely to cause worry included: having insufficient retirement funds (21 percent), losing one’s job (18 percent) and credit card debt (13 percent). Just 16 percent of all respondents said they didn’t worry about money.

Unfortunately, this financial unease has seeped into people’s relationships and emotions as well. Nearly half of respondents said their happiness has been affected by their finances. In addition, nearly three in 10 couples reported that recent economic challenges had caused tension in their relationship with their spouse or partner.

Fortunately, this anxiety can be conquered. Following are four simple steps to help you calm your financial angst.

1. Tend to the basics. This involves first identifying your financial goals, then determining the specific steps necessary to reach them. Understanding the flow of money into and out of your household, developing a realistic budget, and placing timeframes for your short- and long-term financial priorities are necessary for establishing your financial foundation.

“From a financial perspective, ’flying blind’ is a proven source of financial anxiety,” says Patrick Egan, Director of Asset Managemen for Thrivent. “Financially knowing where you’re at, where you want to be and how you plan to get there is not only reassuring but empowering. This will allow you to sleep better at night.”

Building a financial emergency fund and protecting one’s health, assets, income and life through appropriate protection solutions are also critical in building a sound financial foundation.

2. Don’t procrastinate. Waiting to get started on your financial goals can be a recipe for failure.

Whether building your retirement assets, enhancing your job skills or paying down your credit card debts, “getting started” can give you an emotional boost in addressing your financial worries.

“Start from where you’re at, not from where you ought to be or want to be,” says Egan. “By taking even a tiny first step you will find yourself a step closer to achieving your financial goals.”

3. Keep learning. In the increasingly complex world of finances, it is important to be a lifelong learner. Talk to people you trust—family, friends, neighbors and financial professionals—about their financial experiences and issues of concern. Financial information is also readily found in print and electronically.

Don’t feel obligated to act on the first advice you receive. Be convinced in your own mind that the course of action you are taking is reasonable. Make the best decision possible given the information you have. As far as possible, work with individuals who have a track record of integrity and who have your best interests at heart.

4. Share your financial heart with your spouse/partner. Finances are a family affair. Having a supportive partner working with you in addressing your financial challenges is a true asset.

“Make sure that you and your partner understand each other’s personal values around money,” says Egan. “Discuss your philosophy around spending, saving and sharing as well as how your work and career plans align with your financial vision. Make time to regularly discuss your finances, plans and goals. This may not eliminate all differences of opinion, but it should help ease many financial tensions and make for a stronger overall relationship.”

For more information, visit Thrivent's or Kiplinger's money survey.

Article source: ARAContent.

 

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