10 Stress Busters for Family Finance
Real Solutions6. Don't obsess over stock market.
A 2002 study in Hong Kong found that those who checked the stock market daily during a recession were more likely to be depressed than those who did not. If it's a volatile situation and you have little control, don't dwell. Instead, make an appointment to check your portfolio quarterly with your partner, and make decisions about where your money should be invested at that time. If you're stressed out by market fluctuations, you may be better off to consider less volatile investments, like high-yield mutual fund or bonds. The fast-paced stock market isn't for everyone.
Whether it's a financial planner, marriage counselor, or financially savvy friend, if you're in over your head -- or can't stop fighting about it -- an outside opinion can help. Financial advisors have all kinds of different pricing structures, and most will offer you a free consultation so you can see if the advisor's strengths match your long- and short-term investment goals.
And if it's your relationship that's suffering from your money woes, you're not alone. Even perfectly matched couples can be driven mad by their partners' spending habits. Talk to your doctor about a marriage counselor who can guide you and your partner through this challenge.
The first step is to stop accumulating debt. Then you can eliminate it. Pay your bills on time. Use cash whenever possible (also a handy way to avoid identity theft), and work out realistic payments with creditors to reduce debt. Consolidating debt into a low-interest loan could be a great solution for you. Or perhaps you just need a structured repayment plan.
Nothing is more stressful than losing your job or receiving an avalanche of unexpected bills. Maintaining a cash cushion in the bank -- typically enough to live on for at least three months -- can help you sleep easier at night.
If you've been good, paid your bills, eliminated your debt, and saved your pennies, you can allow yourself a reward that fits the budget, whether it's a trip to Jamaica, a massage, or a nice meal. After all that hard work, you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labors -- finally!
Originally published on LHJ.com, February 2005.