Most of us have been there at one time or another—you lie awake at night worrying about how you are going to pay your mortgage, how you will put your kids through college, or even how to pay for this month’s bills.
According to a Gallup Poll in 2014, about 31 percent of Americans were concerned about not being able to pay housing costs such as rent or a mortgage; about 35 percent worried about not being able to pay for their children’s college education; and about 36 percent were concerned that they did not have enough money to pay the bills. Well over a third of the American public is under some form of financial pressure.
Peace of Mind Starts with a Plan
It is nice to know that you are not alone, but what can you actually do about it? Fortunately, peace of mind starts with a good financial strategy. For most people, it is the uncertainty of what to do about a situation that causes the most stress. While your financial problems are not going to go away overnight, setting up a plan to deal with them can help to ease your mind about the future.
Whether you are worried about this month’s bills, next month’s housing payment or helping your children avoid student loan debt, the steps toward improving your financial situation are remarkable similar.
Find Out Where You Stand
The first step can be pretty scary—you need the details of each debt owed. That means finding out what must be paid every month and what interest rate is being charged. Many people don’t even have a full understanding of their situation until this happens.
Now that you know what the extent of the debt is, you can start to set some financial goals. Take a look at the list of debts. Are there any small amounts that you can settle quickly within the next couple of months? If so, these are the debts that you should target first.
Paying off these small debts is easier and puts a mark in the win column for you. The motivation this provides often outweighs any financial gains you would make by paying off the highest-interest debt first, which is another popular strategy.
To start paying off your debt, you’ll need to find some extra money. For some people, that will mean finding a way to increase their income, while for others, it may mean reducing waste and cutting back on unnecessary expenses like cable and eating out.
Small Victories Lead to Big Victories
Once you pay off that first debt, it becomes a lot easier. Once that debt is gone, the installment for it is like “extra” income and you can put this amount towards the next debt on the list. From there, it is like a house of cards, your debt will start to topple and your financial situation will become more secure as time goes on.
Another great tool for taking control of your financial situation is a credit monitoring service, which can help to identify improvements in your credit rating and, at the same time, help you protect your hard-won improved credit status from being misused by fraudsters and identity thieves.
Having a plan in place can do wonders to alleviate anxiety when it comes to financial matters. For instance, if you notice something suspicious on your credit card statement, you can respond quickly to head off bigger problems.
Your financial future is your own hands; re-take control today for a better tomorrow!