Worrying about money is natural. Almost everyone’s done it at some point. But worrying also could be a sign that there are serious problems you’re avoiding — a persistent little reminder that these problems are not going away. So if you're finding yourself stressed about money this holiday season, there are a few ways to help you get your finances under control.
- Create a budget. Start by writing down your total income for the month. Then, list out all of your expenses. Be sure to include groceries, gas, etc. Subtract your expenses from your income to equal zero so all of your money is accounted for. After your bills are paid, any left over money should be going into your savings or into an emergency fund. Track your spending over the course of a month. It’s as easy as using a spreadsheet or a simple piece of paper.
- Start an emergency fund. When you get your paycheck, do not immediately think about how you’ll spend it. Put a small amount in a savings account for emergency use only, then add to it every month. The goal is to be able to cover three months of expenses. Knowing you have a few bucks in a savings account is huge! For even more security, add to it with another income stream. It doesn’t have to be a second job—sell your old stuff online or monetize a hobby, like freelance writing or photographing.
- If you don’t already have one, open a personal retirement account. You can open an IRA at Atlantic Federal Credit Union. Another option is a 401(k). If your company offers a matching program for your 401(k), take advantage of it! Contribute the minimum to get your employer to kick in the same. You’ll be amazed at how that money will grow over time.
- Meet with a financial adviser so you don’t have to tackle your problems alone. Atlantic Financial Services is a great place to start. They can help you organize and set a strategy for your future.
Do these four things—create a budget, build up your savings, open a retirement account, and have a financial adviser take a look at your whole financial picture —and you’ll be worry-free in no time.
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