Money worries can have serious health consequences. In a Rutgers University telephone survey of 3,121 women and men, half admitted to having stress about money, 23 percent said their anxiety was severe, and 12 percent called it over-whelming. The damage? Survey-takers said financial stress contributed to high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, headaches, digestion troubles, aches and pains, ulcers, excessive smoking and drinking, and gaining or losing weight.
In an Ohio State University study of 1,036 people, those with a higher proportion of their income tied up in credit card debt also had more health problems than those living with lower debt-to-income ratio. “Any one of us who has debt knows that it can cause stress in our lives, and it makes sense that this stress may be bad for our health.” Notes lead researcher Paul J. Lavrakas, PhD.
Can you stop debt from shortening your life? Yes, but let’s be honest. It is not easy. Getting yourself out of debt is a close equal to losing large amounts of weight. It takes time, the process can be hard on your ego and your lifestyle, you must be constantly vigilant, and it is easy to revert back to old habits. But for those who succeed – and many people do – the results are stunning. By eliminating debt you are going to feel more in control of your life with less stress and fewer worries. You’ll be able to sleep better, stop overeating, and have fewer headaches. Finding way to curb your spending and focus on the simple joys in life will help improve your relationships
Here are some tips to work on to become debt free.
Learn about money management. You can’t master your money if you don’t understand the rules and methods of personal finance. Find a book, magazine, or web site that speaks to your level of understanding and learn all you can about credit cards, mortgages, electronic banking, budgeting and investing.
Put your credit cards on ice. Literally. Put them in a cup, add water, and place it in the back of the freezer so you can’t use them. It’s just one clever way to get you to immediately stop increasing your debt. To use it you will need to thaw out the cup of ice and hopefully by that time the impulse of buying something you do not need will have past.
Create a budget. How much money is coming in each month? How much are you spending on essentials, and how much are you spending on frivolous purchases and entertainment? An hour of honest assessment of your spending habits can go a long way toward showing you a better path. A great plan to follow is called the Zero Based budget. The point of zero-based budget is to make income minus the outgo equal zero. If you cover all your expenses during the month and have $500 left over, you aren’t done with the budget yet. You must tell that $500 where to go. If you don’t, you lose the chance to make it work for you in the areas of getting out of debt, saving for an emergency, investing, paying off the house or growing wealth. Tell EVERY dollar where to go. Here is a great resource you can use at www.everydollar.com. Best of all, It’s Free!
Pay at least the minimum amount due each month on all of your bills. And pay more than the minimum payment on your highest-interest credit card. After you’ve paid off your highest-interest card, move to the next.
Automate good money habits. Today you can have paychecks deposited directly into your bank accounts and have small amounts automatically diverted to savings accounts. You can have bills paid automatically from your accounts also. The more you can use technology to improve your money management, the better.
Change money priorities. Banish shopping as a form of entertainment. Instead, go for a walk, take up a hobby, meet with friends, or try a craft project. Identify the things you want to spend on in the future- vacations, a retirement home, a new car – and start savings programs for each.
Once again, I urge you to try out the free budgeting tools offered at www.everydollar.com They help you first work out a Zero Based budget and then help you work towards building an emergency fund, reserve funds and even saving for retirement. Managing money is hard! Try and use the technology available to you to make it at least just a little bit easier.
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