Financial stress is something that can affect anyone. This post is about potentially reducing your stress by actually facing your finances and learning about them… not ignoring them. Knowledge is power. One tool I will discuss is Expensify.com
I know from talking with many people that one of the most potentially powerful stressors is financial stress. Worrying about money. And one of the things I find from many people when they are worried, is that they begin to ignore the details, to try not to think about them. For example, they may have a large credit card bill that keeps piling up…but they believe that by sweeping it under the rug and just not thinking about it, their stress will go away.
Sweeping A Financial Stress Under The Rug Does Not Make It Go Away
What I have found is that when mentally trying to ignore something, you 1) actually spend a lot more time thinking about it, because you have to keep thinking about it to ignore it 2) your energy becomes very negative because it is spent on avoiding rather than welcoming in to your heart and 3) the very action of ignoring something leads to uncertainty, because you constantly worry about what “could” be happening…which is in itself very stressful. It is far better to know something…only that way can you lay it to rest. And attacking your financial stress can be done by learning everything you need to know about your enemy.
Attack Your Uncertainties…Learn As Much As You Can About Your Financial Stress
One thing that I counsel people on in reducing financial stress is in attacking their uncertainties. What does it mean to not have enough money? It usually means they are spending more money than they really should be. And when we dig into this further, the reason for this is because people have no idea where their money is going…they have never taken the time to actually track their expenditures. If you know where your money is going, where it is being spent, then you have already won half the battle…because you have removed the uncertainty, the uneasy background feeling of not being in control of your money.
Rule: Spend Less Than You Earn
I was reading the Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton, and this was one of the rules he had in his book. Seems pretty simple, but just thought it was worth bringing up here.
Expensify.com Is One Tool You Can Use
Expensify.com is one tool you can use in attacking the uncertainty that leads to financial stress. It is a website where you can enter all your expenses, categorize them, and then create reports to see how much you are spending and on what. What I did was download a version to my blackberry, and EVERY time I spend ANYTHING I quickly input how much, to whom and for what into the program. Literally takes 10 seconds. It is so convenient. Then when I set some time aside in my schedule to follow up on this, I log onto the Expensify.com website on my computer, and I find all the things I entered into my blackberry already there, and I just organize it. You may be surprised at how much you actually spend on the little things….they can add up. You can print out a report to share with your family if you want to provide them with knowledge. Just the fact of knowing your spending patterns is very empowering in itself, because it feels like it has helped you take some control back over your financial situation…rather then your financial stress controlling you.
The Latte Factor
David Bach talks about how the little things add up, and calls it the Latte Factor. You may find it interesting.
A Task For You
So here is a task for you … if you are up to it. Check out the expensify.com site (I don’t get anything for promoting them, I just have found their services useful … and free … and love to promote things I think are good). And if you use some other tool, like another website, or program, or even good old pencil and paper…just do it. Attack you financial stress. Invest some time to learn about your spending habits. Decide if you like what you see…and if you don’t…then change it. But you can’t change it if you don’t even know what it is. Empower yourself with knowledge!