Everybody experiences stress now and then. Work gets crazy. There’s a family crisis. Maybe it’s your health, or an unexpected event like an accident or natural disaster.
Everybody’s situation is a little different. But there’s one source of stress that everyone experiences whether you’re rich, poor or somewhere in between…money.
How’s your financial health? If it isn’t perfect, you’re not alone.
About 76 percent of adults in the U.S. say their number one source of stress is work and money.1
- Maybe it’s an unexpected car repair or medical bill.
- Or you’re not sure how to cover the mortgage or rent.
- Maybe you’re trying to buy a house.
- Or you’ve got kids to put through college and you’re trying to save for retirement.
- Or you’re concerned about the stock market, your investments, and your future.
For most people, financial stress is always there…nickel-and-diming away your thoughts, your health, and your happiness. And if you don’t do anything about it, long-term stress can even increase your risk for a heart attack.2
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Getting a handle on your money can reduce stress, help you save for emergencies, and even improve your health.
The millionaire mindset
In the book, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of American’s Wealthy, authors Thomas Stanley and William Danko interviewed hundreds of self-made millionaires to find out what they had in common about money.3 And their advice was surprisingly simple.
Here are 9 ways to improve your financial wellness:
1. Spend less than you earn
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you’ve probably heard the advice before. Maybe it’s an income problem, and you need to improve your skills to get a better job, or you live in an expensive area. But take a closer look at your spending habits. You may find ways to stretch your budget. For example, the average adult spends $2,000 to $4,000 per year on dining out.4
Tip: Use online tool such as Mint.com or other tools to create a budget and manage your spending. You can even track your spending in the FitLyfe platform, and set reminders to pay your bills.
2. Avoid credit card debt, pay off balances
If you use credit cards, pay off the balance as soon as possible to avoid high-interest fees (usually 18 to 30 percent). Wondering where you stand? In the U.S., the average adult has $4,192 in credit card debt.5 But if you only pay the minimum, without racking up any more debt, it will take years to pay that off.
3. Save some money every month
How much money are you saving every month? 5 percent, 10 percent, maybe 15 percent of your income? Or nothing. About 34 percent of U.S. adults don’t have any money in savings. And that’s a problem when an unexpected expense arises, you’d like to take a vacation, or you’re trying to save for retirement.
Tip: Pay yourself by saving some money every month. Budget for it just like your smartphone, WiFi connection, rent/mortgage or another monthly expense.
4. Save a few months of living expenses
If you don’t have three to six months of expenses saved, what’s your income plan if you lose your job, get injured, or have to take time off to help a family member?
It’s easy to think, “It won’t happen to me.” But chances are pretty good you know someone facing one of these challenges. And it could happen to you.
Tip: Save three to six months of living expenses. If that sounds impossible, start by saving enough to cover all your bills for a month.
5. Check your credit report
If you need a loan for a car, a house, or something else, your credit score matters. Check your credit report. Lenders look at credit scores to consider the risk of loaning someone money. If your credit score is low, you may have a hard time finding a loan or only qualify for high-interest loans.
Here’s a range of credit scores:
- 300-579: Poor
- 580-669: Fair
- 670-739: Good
- 740-799: Very good
- 800-850 Excellent
How do you improve your credit score?
Pay your bills on time. Only borrow what you can pay back. And avoid carrying a lot of debt at any one time compared to your income.
Checking your credit score can also alert you to any errors on your credit report or potential identify fraud that can harm your ability to borrow money.
Tip: You can check your credit score with your bank, most credit card companies, and many online resources.
6. Pay your bills on time
It’s a basic concept. But a lot of people miss paying bills on time. And that can cost you a lot of money in late fees and charges. Use a calendar, reminders on your smartphone, or online tools to remember to pay your bills.
7. Get financial advice
If you’re planning to buy a home, invest, save for retirement, or take out a loan for something, get financial advice from an expert. You’ll learn a lot about your loan options, avoid making mistakes, and find the best option that fits your budget.
8. Save for retirement
When you’re young, you might not think about retirement much. But it’s an important part of your long-term financial plan. If you want to enjoy your senior years and cover medical costs, now is always the best time to start saving.
Tip: Take advantage of any tax-deductible contributions your employer may offer through payroll deduction to grow your retirement fund or 401(k).
9. Give your financial health a check-up
Wellness is never a one-and-done activity. It’s a process. Eat healthy, exercise, sleep well, and get regular check-ups. You know the routine. Your financial health needs a regular check-up, too.
- Check your credit score.
- Take a closer look at your spending habits
- Evaluate your debt and assets
- Review your income goals
Want to improve your financial health and wellness? Now is always the best time to start.
Evans, A.C. (2017). Stress in America. The state of our nation. American Psychological Association. From: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2017/state-nation.pdf
- American Heart Association. (2014). Stress and heart health. From: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/stress-and-heart-health
- Stanley, T., et al. (2010). The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of American’s Wealthy. Lanham, M.D.: Taylor Trade Publishing
- Lock, S. (2019). Average spending on food away from home in the U.S. Statista. From: https://www.statista.com/statistics/937352/eating-out-average-spend-by-age-us/
- Allcot, D. (2019). Average credit card debt in the U.S. BankRate. From: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/states-with-most-credit-card-debt-1/
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?