According to a recent study1, 90% of Americans feel stressed about money. Some of this anxiety is due in part to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, product shortages and inflation. Unfortunately, stress can often lead to questionable decisions, so it’s important to deal with it sooner rather than later. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are six ways to help manage your finances.
- Firm Up Your Financial Plan
If you are paying your bills and saving for emergencies and retirement – you are on track. Even if your plan is informal, you most likely feel a sense of financial security. Still, it’s important to review your plan to see where you can save more on things like insurance and other expenditures.
On the other hand, if you are struggling to pay your bills on time, accumulating debt and not saving for the future, then consider getting some financial coaching. To support you in helping you with managing your money goals, we’ve partnered with national non-profit GreenPath Financial Wellness to offer you free individualized counseling. Read Ask the Financial Counselor: Navigating Money Setbacks.
- Get a Handle on Debt
One of the biggest hindrances to financial security is accumulating too much debt. If your credit score has taken a hit because of a job loss or other unexpected setbacks, it’s time to develop an action plan. Since an on-time payment history makes up a significant portion of your credit score, pay at least the minimum required payment each month, on or before the due date. If you are still struggling, find out if you qualify for a financial hardship or relief program that allows you to suspend or make partial payments temporarily without negatively affecting your credit. Read How to Tackle Debt During Tough Times.
- Balance Transfers and Personal Loans
If you’re carrying high-rate interest credit card debt, consider transferring the balance one with a lower interest rate. Pay attention to these two things when transferring your balance:
- Promotional Period – If you get a 0% annual percentage rate offer or a low introductory rate, you need to know exactly how long that promotional rate will last. Once the promotional period is over, your interest rate may be higher than what you are currently paying.
- Fees – Before you say yes to a balance transfer offer, even one with a 0% APR, check for fees. Balance transfer fees usually run between 2% and 5% of the amount transferred.
You might also consider a personal loan to consolidate debt. Learn more about personal loans.
- Get an Insurance Review
Do you have the right amount of coverage to protect your car or home? A licensed agent at SchoolsFirst Insurance Services can help explore your options, identify any gaps and find discounts you might not have considered. For instance, it’s important to make sure you have adequate liability and uninsured/underinsured coverage in case you have an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Natural disasters are also something to be prepared for if you live in an area prone to wildfires, hurricanes or floods. While you can’t prevent these occurrences, you can help reduce your fears and the potential damage by preparing for them. Read Why it Makes Sense to Work With an Independent Insurance Agent.
- Review Your Investment Strategy
It’s easy to get unsettled by the ups and downs of the market. If you develop an investment strategy that matches your goals, time horizon and risk tolerance, you’ll be more likely to handle market swings.
Seek guidance from a financial advisor to help you create or evaluate your investment strategy. A SchoolsFirst Financial Advisor2 can review your situation and determine which investment options align with your goals. Contact us at 800.462.8328, ext. 4116, opt. 2 to schedule an in-person or virtual consultation. Learn more.
- Inflation: Prepare for Rising Prices
If you’ve noticed a spike in your cost of living, make sure you have a budget, stick with the essentials. If you plan on shopping for the holidays, or making larger purchases, do your research to find the best deals and make sure you’ve planned for these expenses. Read Consumer Reports’ advice on how to save money as consumer prices keep rising.1
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