Are financial worries keeping you awake at night? You’re not alone.
The preliminary “Money Anxiety Index” for August stands at 59.8, which is the same as it was prior to the beginning of the Great Recession at the end of 2007. The index, developed by behavioral economist Dan Geller, measures the level of consumers’ financial worry and stress based on their spending and savings levels.
With political and economic uncertainty, it’s no wonder people are having palpitations. Here’s how to step back and avoid pushing the panic button.
- Focus on what you can control. “You can’t control the performance of the markets or inflation, [so] concentrate on what you can do, like how much you spend, save and invest,” says Laurie Samay, a certified financial planner with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Scarsdale.
- Take action. Nothing quiets fear like action. Have a written plan to get out of debt. “Pull your pay stubs that reflect a month’s take-home pay, and make sure that every dollar has a place. First go to the items that must be paid (rent, food, etc.), then pay down credit cards. With a written plan, you’re less inclined to make stupid purchases. You’ll sleep better knowing there’s a plan,” says Abby Eisenkraft, a chartered retirement planning counselor with Choice Tax Solutions in Manhattan.
- Go hard. Get a gig at night or weekends. Play less. Says Eisenkraft, “You can’t go out with friends for dinner and drinks four nights a week. Start cooking. Bring food for lunch. Get angry at your debt so you’re motivated to do something about it, instead of wringing your hands and losing sleep.”