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Ten Steps to Take During Difficult Financial Times

Ten Steps to Take During Difficult Financial Times


Difficult financial times can lead to feelings of stress. Here are ten ways to ease your anxiety by focusing on the areas in your life over which you have control.

1) Watch for and manage symptoms of stress. Money worries can trigger stress in people of all ages. Watch for signs of stress in yourself and in the people you love. These may include changes in sleeping or eating patterns, headaches, irritability, anger, difficulty concentrating, and depression.

If you are having difficulty managing stress, take care of yourself by eating right, getting enough sleep, setting aside regular time for activities you enjoy, and learning ways to relax. If you’re unable to manage the stress on your own, seek help from a professional. Your health care provider can help. You’ll also find many helpful resources on this site on managing stress.

2) Pull together with family and friends for emotional support and share ideas about ways to save money. Help one another through this time of financial uncertainty, both by offering emotional support and by pooling your resources. You might share the cost of child care, for example, carpool together, shop at discount stores together to save money, or even share living expenses.

3) Review your budget and cut unnecessary expenses. Track your spending and trim the extras, such as takeout meals, cable television, or entertainment out. Save at the grocery store by using coupons and buying less expensive brands. If you have any money left over, use the savings to pay down debt and to build an emergency fund. Financial experts recommend setting aside enough money to cover three to six months’ worth of daily living expenses. That may feel overwhelming to think about just now, but start with small amounts today and make it a longer-term goal.

4) Work on decreasing your debt as much as possible. This will help you feel less worried overall. You’ll find many helpful resources on this site on ways to reduce debt.

5) Work with creditors if you are in debt. Call each creditor and ask for smaller monthly payments or reduced interest rates and more time to pay off your debt. Most creditors will try to work with you if you explain your situation and demonstrate that you intend to meet your obligations by paying even a small amount each month. Be sure to know exactly what you can afford before you call your creditors. You don’t want to commit to something you won’t be able to follow through with.

6) Review your retirement and savings plans with a professional. Don’t make short-term emotional decisions with long-term investment plans. Meet with a trusted financial adviser before making any decisions to sell assets or move money to different accounts. If you don’t have a financial adviser or planner, make sure you choose one who is certified with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

7) Talk with your manager if the situation is affecting your work or productivity. If you are working longer hours, are worried about job uncertainty, are experiencing feelings of stress or overload, or are dealing with other issues at work, talk with your manager about your concerns and about possible solutions. Also, focus at work on ways to reduce your stress. During your break, practice 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises, or get out of your workspace for a brief walk. Both are good ways to reduce stress.

8) Remember how you’ve faced difficult challenges in the past. What worked for you then? How can you use some of those strategies now? Simply reminding yourself of your capabilities can help you feel more in control of the current situation.

9) Don’t be afraid to seek help. Your employee assistance program (EAP) can help with a range of issues related to finances and stress. Contact the program for information and resources.

10) Take advantage of resources to help see you through difficult financial times.  If you are having trouble meeting housing, food, utility, medical, or other bills, contact us for further assistance.