When you think about setting goals for the year, you may choose to focus on your health or your finances. But did you know you can focus on both at the same time?
Studies show a relationship between financial stress and poorer health. In addition to contributing to anxiety and depression, chronic stress can worsen other conditions—such as heart disease, diabetes, insomnia, high blood pressure and gastrointestinal problems.
But you can make that health-finances connection work for you. Here are five steps that can help you improve your financial outlook—and your well-being at the same time:
1. Identify your financial concerns
Begin by identifying the source of your financial stress, such as credit card debt or a lack of savings. Or perhaps you’re concerned about how your family will pay the bills if you lose your job.
Tip for less financial stress: If you don’t have all the answers, don’t worry. “There are people who can help along the way,” says Steve Milbeck, chief trust officer for AAA Banking Services. “You don’t have to go it alone.”
2. Make a plan
After you identify the cause of your concerns, dive deeper into the specifics so you can create a plan that works for you. Consider exactly what you need to do in order to alleviate your financial stress. For example, if your concern is outstanding debt, make a list of everything you owe.
Don’t forget to take into account other options that can help alleviate your financial issues, like inquiring about payment plans, savings options or lower interest rates on credit cards. Once you’ve pinpointed what you need to do and what to work toward, prioritize your items into a step-by-step plan.
Tip for less financial stress: It may feel overwhelming right now, but knowing exactly what you owe is a great place to start creating a plan that will reduce your stresses, according to the American Psychological Association.
3. Set up a monthly budget