I think about money all the time.
Whether I’m observing other people’s financial behavior or looking for column ideas, it’s on my mind. I even worry about my own finances now and then.
Thinking about your money – or money you don’t have – can be stressful. Today, I’d like to ease some of that stress with a game called Financial Jeopardy. Play along by writing in your answers. (The first four questions come from the Stress Awareness Month Survey, http://bit.ly/1FZNAhU, by the Certified Financial Planner Board. The fifth question is mine.)
For $200, 23% of us stress out most about this aspect of our finances? What is ______?
For $400, this would help most of us reduce our financial stress? What is having a ______?
For $600, nearly 25% of us feel the most stressed about our finances at this time of the month. What is ______?
For $800, to combat stress we take a variety of actions. Thirteen percent of us choose to do this, which really does not help. What is ______?
For $1,000, debt and unconscious spending steal this from many people? What is ______?
Are you stressed about debt, without a plan, dreading the end of the month when bills are due and would rather do anything than face your money problems but know deep down that they are stealing your dreams? If so, I have some action steps for you. Each requires just 20 minutes of quiet time.
Day 1: Make a list of things you’d like to do, places you’d like to visit and people you’d like to see. Nothing is off limits.
Day 2: Review your list of dreams and choose the dream that will motivate you to face your money problems.
Day 3: Make a list of all of your debt. Start from the smallest to the largest and note the minimum payment and due date. Don’t forget money borrowed from friends and family.
Day 4: Create a realistic budget. Include necessities, obligations, less-than-monthly expenses and a few nice-to-have items.
Day 5: Make a plan to pay off your debt in 12 to 18 months. Divide your total from Day 3 by 12 to determine how much you’ll need to allocate to debt each month to be free of it within a year. If this seems too hard, divide by 18 months. Too easy? Try six or eight months.
Day 6: Go for a 20-minute walk. Exercise is a great antidote for stress.
Day 7: Go to bed 20 minutes earlier than usual. Extra sleep also helps reduce stress.
For a more in-depth seven-day plan to eliminate financial stress, visit www.personalfinancecoaching.com/money-savvy-resources.
When you pay off your debt and reduce your financial stress, you are likely to find that you have more time and energy to design the life of your dreams.
email@example.comDurango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfiancecoaching.com.