Gain control, worry less about finances

March 19, 2014 

According to Redbook magazine, 11 percent of women worry about money almost hourly, while 14 percent almost never do. Where do you fit in on the worry scale? How frequently do you worry about running out of money or missing a bill payment?

I meet with a lot of widows who have just recently lost their husbands, and many times they are very worried, even when they are in great financial shape.

The National Institute of Health reports that women are twice as likely as men to worry, and they are not sure why this is. The bottom line is if you’re a worrier, you’re not alone. And there are steps you can take to gain a sense of control over your finances.

1. Make a list. Get out that notepad, and write down all of your financial concerns. Really take your time with this, and try to think of every nagging thought. Next, cross off the things you have no control over. This may not be immediately helpful, but it’s part of the process.

Now, using the remaining items, make a new list that prioritizes these concerns, starting with the one that bothers you the most.

2. Research resources. Now, review your list of worries, and make notes about what can be done to release them. Is there something you need to do or change? Is there someone you need to call? Do you need professional advice? If your debt is out of control, call Consumer Credit Counseling Services. They have offices in Macon and Warner Robins and offer free counseling -- even by phone if you need it. Their number is 478-745-6197.

3. Get in control. I find that many people feel out of control when it comes to their money because of the way they spend. The more you use a debit and/or credit card, the less your brain registers the swipe with actual spending, and the easier it is to overdo it.

To counter this, track every penny you spend for 30 days on a notepad (by category), so you can really see where your money is going. It’s important to write down spending daily -- all of it. This helps to create a new habit of awareness that will help you make good spending choices.

4. Take stock. Back to that notepad or maybe a spreadsheet. List all of your assets, and their values, starting at the top of the page. Include your retirement plan accounts, bank accounts, value of your home, etc. Next, list your liabilities (debt).

As you list your liabilities, write down the item name (credit card), amount owed and interest rate. This is something you need to update annually so you can measure your progress toward paying off debt and increasing savings.

5. Make a plan. Once you have your 30 days of spending tracked, total the columns, and evaluate where your money is going. Do you need to make any changes? For example, what if you ate out less and put an extra $100 per month toward paying off debt? If you want to really get motivated, go to www.bankrate.com and use their debt payoff calculators.

Too much worrying is unhealthy, but a little might just motivate you to get into the best financial shape ever. That’s what I’m hoping for.

Sherri Goss is vice president of Rosenberg Financial Group Inc., with offices in Macon and Warner Robins. Contact her at 478-922-8100 or sherri@rfmoney.com.

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