4 Quick Ways to Reduce Money Stress
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4 Quick Ways to Reduce Money Stress

Calm your mind and improve your bottom line.

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By Donna Freedman

Money worries? You’re not alone. A 2018 study found Americans are more stressed about finances than they are about work or relationships. Money can be a scary topic, especially if you grew up in a home where no one talked about it, or where poor money habits were modeled.

But it is possible to run your finances, instead of having them run you. Remember, you didn’t know how to ride a bike or use a computer—until you learned.

And it’s so worth it: That same study notes that 87 percent of Americans say nothing makes them feel more confident and content than having their finances in order. Check out these four simple tactics to get control of your cash.

1. Plan Your Finances

2 / 5 1. Plan Your Finances

The old saying is that people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. You don’t need a PhD in economics to get going:

  • Track spending: You need to know where your dollars go now.
  • Decide what’s important to you: A house? Early retirement? Starting a business?
  • Create a plan: The 50/30/20 plan is simple; use this worksheet from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to start.

Next, keep looking for reputable information on things like retirement and investing. The CFPB's “Consumer Tools” section is a good place to start. Your workplace might offer advice, as well, or you may choose to work with a certified financial planner.

Never think you don’t have “enough” money to create a plan. Fact is, doing so will help your money grow and put you on the path to financial security.

2. Consolidate Your Accounts

3 / 5 2. Consolidate Your Accounts

Maybe your childhood bank account is still open, but you have checking and debit at a second institution and your home loan at a third. Streamline your finances at one bank and ask for free checking in return. Open a savings account, too, for an emergency fund.

Ditto retirement accounts: You might have a few from former jobs, or some mutual funds you bought with graduation money 10 years ago. Roll them into one brokerage with the lowest fees you can find. Some brokerages even offer free checking accounts with loads of perks.

Pro tip: Check terms every few years, to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

3. Set Your Finances on Auto

4 / 5 3. Set Your Finances on Auto

Set up recurring billing and you’ll never pay another late fee again! No need to buy checks or stamps, either.

You can also automate savings and investing from every paycheck. Don’t worry—you’ll quickly get used to living on what’s left. So, set it and forget it, then watch your money grow.

Check out free apps like Mint and PocketGuard, which will track your spending and display the results by category—a truly useful wake-up call if you tend to spend without thinking. With Mint, you can even set a limit and ask to be notified when you get close to going over it.

4. Check Up on Your Insurance

5 / 5 4. Check Up on Your Insurance

You might be paying too much for not enough insurance. It’s important to have sufficient coverage for your home (or apartment) and everything inside. Talk with an agent about auto coverage, especially a larger liability policy to reduce out-of-pocket costs after an accident.

Get quotes from multiple companies (time-consuming, but worth it!) and make sure you get an apples-to-apples comparison. Raise deductibles to lower premiums on auto and homeowners policies. Ask about discounts for buying more than one policy with the same insurer.

As your assets grow, consider an additional “umbrella” policy, which generally costs $150 to $300 per year for $1 million worth of coverage.