Financial Spring Cleaning: 7 Steps

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Do you find yourself stressing over your bills?  Do you dread sitting down to make ends meet?  Have you been avoiding making yourself an honest budget?  Finances can be a significant source of stress, leading to physical ailments, anxiety and depression.  Taking a positive approach to releasing this stress can greatly enhance your health and well-being.

Start by thinking about what’s important in your life.  Is is material things? family? a safety net for emergencies? savings for retirement or an event?  Would you find release and happiness with simpler life?  Write down what’s important on an index card and put it where you can see it as you work through this exercise.  By following some quick steps you can begin the process of easing the burden of financial woes.

Rather than seeing your finances as a negative, think of playing a game called “Find that Money!”  Gather together the bills from the past month and sort them into categories.  Make another pile with your sources of income.  The challenge is to see how you can find $200 that you could use to satisfy one of the items on your index card.

1.  Take a deep breath and pull out the bills that MUST be paid such as rent/mortgage, car, utilities (not the credit cards).  Add up the amount.

2.  Next, grab your credit card bills, and find the items that are necessary such as gas, tolls, subway tickets, etc.  Add this to the basic expenses. For the remainder of the credit card items, take a highlighter and go to town by highlighting the things you like to have and do, but don’t need for survival.  Add up these items.   This is where you may find your money.

3.  Prioritize the fun items from your credit card expenses.  Start with what is most important to you and work your way down.

4.  Once you have a priority list, brainstorm some alternative solutions – examples are:

  • using Hulu.com for watching TV, rather than an expensive service with lots of premium channels
  • planning your clothes purchases around sale weekends or the clearance racks at the end of a season
  • searching vintage shops for gently used items that you need for your home
  • using coupons, coupon codes and other help for drugstore and grocery items
  • purchasing your produce this summer at farmer’s markets
  • choosing to bring your lunch to work, eating out fewer times per week

5.  Unless it’s an emergency, stop charging items that you can’t afford – instead, figure out how much to put toward an item each month so that you can pay in full when you purchase it (like your own personal layaway plan).

6.  Credit card debt can suck the life out of you and greatly increase your stress.  Begin paying off the lowest balance with some of the money you find by going through your list.  Imagine how it would feel to pay off one card in full?

7.  After looking through your income and expenses, did you discover an imbalance that requires additional income?  What are some ways to earn more?  Do you have gently used items you could sell on Etsy or Amazon?  Do you have a talent that you enjoy and could use to increase your income?  Make a list of possible income streams.

Did you find that $200?  If not, go back and do some more brainstorming.  What kinds of fun can you have without additional expense?  What items could you let go of that are not truly serving you?  How important is it to eliminate financial worry and stress?  You have the answers – trust your ability to think outside the box and make healthy decisions for yourself and others.

 

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