After years of helping people with money, the biggest source of stress we’ve seen is the “unknown.” Financially, people don’t know where they are, where they’re going, or how to change their situation. If you’re in the great “unknown,” tackle money stress by making a plan and working your plan.
Planning is a powerful antidote to anxiety. First, take stock. To get a snapshot of your finances, write down your monthly income and expenses. Next, set some goals. Taking control and choosing a direction combats stress. What changes would reduce your financial anxiety? Maybe you’d like to pay off credit cards, save the downpayment for a car, or start an emergency fund. Write down these goals and set a deadline. What can you do in three months? One year? Now map your action steps. Create a budget… open a savings account… pay down credit cards. Planning gives the stress-relieving sense that you’ve got things under control. Next, work your plan.
Ability + Attitude + Perseverance = Success
Ability – We’re not born with money skills – they’re learned. Park View’s Financial Wellness Center (www.pvfcu.banzai.org/wellness/coaches) has interactive online coaches to teach you the basics. Start with the Financial Wellness Assessment, then check out articles on budgeting, saving, borrowing, handling debt, and improving your credit score.
Attitude – Money stress can be overwhelming and lead to bitterness, complaining, and blaming. Making a financial plan work, however, will take a positive attitude. For us, it helps to “count our blessings.” Gratitude transforms attitudes!
Perseverance – Working a financial plan isn’t easy or quick. The key is to keep at it. We once heard the fable of two frogs who fell into a bowl of cream. Sadly, one frog gave up and drowned, but the other cheerfully proclaimed, “I can’t get out, but I won’t give in!” He swam until he’d churned the cream into butter, then happily hopped out. The frog got out of his mess, and so can you – if you keep at it.
Make your plan, then work your plan. Before you know it, you’ll have less stress and more success!
Karen and Ken Gonyer, financial professionals at Park View Federal Credit Union, are the authors of How Do I Stop Stressing About Money and The Good Life: Finding Joy, Peace, and Simplicity in a Stressed-Out World. Established in 1969, Park View Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative that provides a full range of financial services from five branch locations in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County area.