Finances

Financial problem solving: Strategies to reduce financial stress

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This guide outlines approaches to reduce a financial problem and the stress that comes with it.

Surveys suggest that around 90% of US adults experience stress as a result of financial worries. Over 60% feel that their situation is getting out of control and more than 40% of people wish they could wipe the slate clean and start afresh. Money worries are the most common cause of stress.

Strategies to solve a financial problem

As the cost of living increases, and we continue to recover from the pandemic, this guide contains useful advice to help you solve your financial problem and reduce stress.  

Monitor spending and track transactions 

Have you ever checked your balance and been surprised at the figures in front of you or forgotten about items you’ve purchased or payments you’ve made? In the modern world, it’s simple to keep an eye on your finances, but it’s also easier than ever to lose track of spending. When you tap a card to pay, set up direct debits, order online without putting details in or pay with your phone, you can spend a lot of money in a matter of seconds.  

The first step to take when trying to organize your finances is to monitor spending to reduce a financial problem or prevent it happening. Check your statements, sign up for alerts from your online banking account and check the direct debits you already have set up. If you don’t use memberships, or you’re paying for subscriptions you no longer want, for example, cancel the payment.

Analyze your spending habits, set a budget each month and look for expenses you can reduce. Try to get into the habit of asking yourself if you really need or want products or services before you buy them. Trimming outgoings on non-essentials is an excellent place to start.  

Take control of debts 

The majority of people are in debt, but that doesn’t mean that every household is struggling financially or has a financial problem. There is a big difference between having a mortgage, loan or credit card you’re paying back on time every month and taking out multiple loans and credit cards to get by.

If you have a mortgage, you’re in control of your credit card balances or you’re paying off a loan and you can make the repayments, there should be no cause for concern. The problem with debt lies in adding to your balances without any means of reducing them.

If you find that you are spending more on more on credit cards or taking out loans to get from one payday to the next, seek advice as soon as possible. Debts can spiral very quickly due to high interest rates and penalties. There is help available, and there are processes and steps you can follow to tackle debts and improve your financial situation.  

Research support and assistance 

Many people are eligible for financial assistance or support that they may not know about to alleviate a financial problem. If you’re struggling to pay bills, or you’re worried about affording healthcare for your family members, research assistance programs and schemes and see if you qualify for help.

It’s increasingly common for adults in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s to find themselves in a scenario where they are trying to balance work and raising a family with looking after older relatives, including parents and grandparents.

If this scenario sounds familiar, and the cost of care is an issue, it’s worth finding out more about schemes like Freedomcare, which provides payments for designated family members who provide care for their loved ones. You may also be able to access support if you have to take time off work due to illness, or your income falls below a certain threshold. Research online using reputable websites, arrange free consultations with approved financial advisors and contact charities that run phone lines and virtual help sessions.  

Protect yourself 

It’s not always possible to prevent a financial problem, especially at a time when living costs are rising and it’s difficult to save, but it is beneficial to protect yourself. Try to be proactive in managing your money, avoid borrowing where possible and make sure you have insurance.

Insurance policies offer access to financial assistance if something goes wrong, for example, you get hit by another driver or a storm damages your home. It’s also a fantastic idea to set up an emergency fund. Even if you can only afford to pay $30 or $100 into your fund every month, this will give you a cushion if you have an unexpected bill to pay or your income drops.  

Boost your credit score 

A credit score is a rating that lenders use to assess the level of risk you pose. The higher the score, the better. If you have a good or excellent credit score, this makes it easier to borrow money, and it also unlocks access to preferential rates. If your score is below average, you may not be able to borrow money to relieve a financial problem.

If you do apply for a loan or a credit card, the interest rate is likely to be much higher. There are several things you can do to boost your credit rating. Use your accounts frequently and demonstrate that you can pay money back. Keep up to date with mortgage and loan repayments, clear credit cards and try to reduce your debt-to-income ratio.

Pay bills on time and seek advice if you think you might struggle to make a payment. You may be able to come to an arrangement with the creditor without impacting your credit score. It’s also beneficial to avoid applying for multiple loans and credit cards if you have a low credit score and there is a high risk of lenders rejecting your applications.  

Conclusion

Money worries are the leading cause of stress among adults. If you experience a financial problem, there are ways to improve your situation and reduce stress. Manage your money, track spending and set a budget. Take control of your debts and seek professional advice if you’re finding it hard to clear debt or get by without using credit or loans.

Research schemes and programs that could help you to cover costs and try to be proactive in protecting yourself from a financial problem. Save money where possible, set up an emergency fund and make sure you have insurance. Understand that there is help available. There’s no shame in reaching out and seeking help or advice.  

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