Financial de-stress tip: Check your credit report

JUN 15, 2011

Do you want to de-stress your financial life? Try drawing yourself a bubble bath, kick up your heels and relax. However, if you really want to cut the amount of stress in your life, you might need to do a bit more work to get the truly long-lasting effects.

Money is one of life’s biggest stressors. From college kids to senior citizens, finances are a common cause of anxiety, whether it’s concerns about savings, bad credit reports or just not enough in the checking account.

Here are a few things you can do to cut down on your financial stress, now and for the long term.

Get the lay of your financial land. If you don’t know where your money is, you won’t be able to deal with it properly. To do this, get your bank statements in order and get copies of your credit report, as well as any investment information and retirement plan paperwork. Assess what you really have, after taking into account the debt you owe and how long you’ll be paying it off.

Get automated. If sitting down to sort through and pay your bills is a stressful activity for you, cut it out of your schedule. Of course, those bills will still need to get paid, but you can do it without even thinking about it by signing up for automated bill payment. The money is simply deducted from your account, so you’ll always be on time, and no late payments will mar your credit report.

Look for new ways to save. Having more money in the bank is always a comfort. Even if you already have a savings account started, look for new ways to add to it. Try estimating the amount you spend on a guilty pleasure every month, and deposit that into savings – but follow through and cut out the habit, too. Or, gather up all the change in your house and have it deposited into your account. There are plenty of little ways to put a little more padding on your savings – just keep in mind that little additions can really add up in the end.

Renew your budget. If you have a budget plan and you’re still finding yourself stressed about money, it’s time to revamp it. Identify your fixed costs, and then get creative with your discretionary money. Perhaps you need to re-route it toward something better for you – yoga classes instead of Friday and Saturday nights at the bar. Or, use more of your discretionary money to pay down debt faster – you’ll be eliminating the stress of debt and cleaning up your credit report at the same time.

The ultimate stress reducer when it comes to money is knowing that your money is being well-spent. Wise use of credit and good financial management can help you secure better loan terms and interest rates, and provide a sense of security for you and your family. Make sure that you’re making smart decisions that will pay off in the long term, and you’ll be less stressed about your finances.