Are your finances stressing you out?

It is time to gain control of your finances and your health depends on it.

Finances are a major stressor for many people. According to webmd.com people who had a high level of stress related to finances had stress-related illnesses such as migraines, depression, anxiety and even heart attacks. Bailey, Woodiel, Turner and Young (1998) conducted a study that involved 187 people and the results indicated that approximately 50 percent of their stress was related to finances and could be decreased by improving financial management. Although, this study was conducted over 10 years ago, people are still stressed about finances. In a more recent study on about.com, 7 out of 10 people reported they were very stressed about finances.

So what does all of this mean? It is time to gain control of your finances and your health depends on it.

Managing finances can be a daunting task for some people, so Michigan State University Extension recommends that you tackle one task at a time. Start with a monthly or weekly spending plan or budget. A spending plan is a detailed list of your income and expenses. To get a handle of your finances, you must recognize what expenses you have.

Spendandinvest.org has spending plans that you can download in Excel, Microsoft Word and PDF formats. Start by writing down all of your weekly or monthly expenses – include everything! Be sure to use your net income (the amount you bring home after taxes and other deductions). Look at the amount of income you have left weekly or monthly. Do you have a deficit? If so, look at your expenses and see what you can reduce. Perhaps you are spending too much on dining out or entertainment.

In addition, look at your flexible expenses (expenses that vary from month to month) and see if you can reduce any of those expenses. Do you have a surplus? If so, see where the extra money will work best. Perhaps you need an emergency fund or you want to save for a vacation. Open a separate account and have a portion directly transferred to that new account.

Also, consider take a financial health survey from MI Money Health to get your financial health score! It is confidential and your answers never connect back to your name. This survey can help you evaluate your current financial situation, provide ideas on how you may improve your financial health and connect you to resources in your local community.

Start small and work in steps so you are not overwhelmed. For more information on how to reduce your stress, visit The Health Resource Network.

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