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Whether you have more money than you need, or are struggling each month to get by, recognizing the stress money plays in our lives is the first step to relieving some of it (and it’s normal to have some money stress!).  For 2018, consider the following steps:

1.) Compartmentalize the worry

When you have a late bill due, or a big financial decision upcoming, it has a way of creeping into the rest of your thoughts and activities. Take a moment, write yourself a note about the next step to address that worry (e.g. “Call the mortgage company Tuesday morning”), and then actively seek another activity to take your mind off it.  Physical exercise is a great way to get out of your head, but doing anything fun or distracting is a good way to reset your stress response to that worry.

2.) Start that budget

If chronic stress about money is your issue, taking a positive step to face your financial concerns this year. You don’t have to budget forever (although many people with high incomes still worry about cash flow), but having a realistic view of your income and expenses that a budget provides is a key way to take back control in your life.  A budget doesn’t necessarily make money magically appear, but it can bring down the temp on your overheating stress.

3.) Get professional help

You don’t change your car’s oil or handle your own medical diagnoses, so don’t avoid the people whose job it is to help with money stress.  A financial planner specializes in aligning your money with long term goals (including reducing debt and improving your monthly finances), and there are a number of debt-management services available (check out https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor for a vetted list).

This can be the year you de-stress your financial life!