EASE STRESS WITH THESE 5 STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR FINANCIAL WELLNESS

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It’s that time again—tax season. And the deadline for filing your taxes is just around the corner. So it seems like as good a time as any to talk about one of the most common causes of stress in people’s lives—money.

The 2015 Stress in America survey lists money as a source of significant stress for many adults. And unlike some sources of stress, financial concerns tend to last for a long time. Sometimes weeks, months, or even years. Over time, that stress can chip away not only at your health but also at your mental and emotional well-being.

The good news is that you can take steps to help get your finances in order. Whether these are baby steps or big strides, any step in the right direction can help ease your financial worries. Here are 5 steps you can take to boost your financial wellness.

  1. Track your monthly spending. You can track your expenses by using an online tool, a smartphone app, or a simple notebook. You may be surprised to learn how much money you spend and on what activities. Do this for a few months and you can gain a better understanding of where your money goes.
  1. Spend less than you make. Once you know how much you’re spending each month, make a list of some ways you can cut back. You may decide to eat out less, borrow books from the library, or limit online shopping. It’s not that you can never indulge. Just try to limit how often you indulge, and choose to indulge in the things that really matter to you.
  1. Review your debt. Do you know what interest rate you are paying and what your payment options are? It may be worth a visit to your bank to find out. You may be able to negotiate a better rate for your mortgage, car loan, or your credit cards, or switch to a payment option that works better for you. Whatever debt you have, learn more about it, be aware of all your options, and make a plan to tackle it.
  1. Start saving for the future. Pay yourself first. Decide how much you want to put into retirement funds. You may also want to open a savings account earmarked for vacations, home improvements, or rainy-day funds. And if you have children, you may want to start a college fund. Review these plans at least once a year and make changes as needed. Also review your long-term plans after certain life events, like getting married, starting a new job, or having a baby.
  1. Remember that some of the best things in life are free. Focus on the things that bring you joy but cost nothing. Watch a movie with your family. Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Explore a local nature center or park. Bond with your pet. Relax on the couch with a good book. Have a game night with friends. These simple pleasures can be just as satisfying as costly ones.

These small steps can start you down the path to better financial health. That may ease a big source of stress in your life. And that, in turn, may lead to better physical, mental, and emotional health.

So, what’s one action you can take to improve your financial wellness? Don’t wait until next week, next month, or next year to take action. Take a step today! It may be just what you need to help boost your financial wellness and overall sense of well-being.