In the current economic climate of job loss, bankruptcy and foreclosure, more people are facing financial challenges. In a recent poll, 70 percent of Americans reported that they are worried about money.
Not surprisingly, financial problems aren’t isolated events. They can lead to health issues such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Financial stress also affects the family, with reports of increased irritability among family members and escalating violence in the home. It’s especially important for parents to manage their stress so that their children aren’t affected. Family members who are part of the sandwich generation face even more problems, as they try to balance finances while taking care of both children and aging parents.
EAP offers the following tips for managing finances:
- Determine where the money is going -- Get a handle on which expenses are necessary and which can be reduced or eliminated. Separate your expenses into:
- Fixed, such as house and car payments
- Variable, such as utilities and groceries
- See where you can cut back -- How many times do you eat out each week? That’s a non-essential expense that could be reduced; variable expenses like groceries and clothing are some of the easiest to cut back; eliminate unnecessary purchases at the grocery store, buy in bulk and shop for clothing at discount stores; call your phone company to negotiate a better rate or switch to a more streamlined cable plan
- Set a budget with reasonable goals -- Now that you know how much money is coming in and what you’re spending it on, set a budget with reasonable goals
- Avoid major purchases -- This may not be the time to buy that big-screen television you’ve been wanting; instead of replacing a failing washing machine or refrigerator, invest in a repair to extend its life
- Pay off high-interest loans and credit cards -- Stop purchasing on credit; start paying off the debt with the lowest balance or the highest interest rate first; paying off the highest interest rate first will save you the most money in the long run; it’s a slow process that can be discouraging, so alternate with smaller bills that can be paid off quickly and give you a sense of progress
- Build an emergency fund when you’re able -- An emergency fund provides savings for unexpected expenses and shouldn’t be used for luxury items or a vacation; set aside a little at a time from each paycheck to build a cushion
If you need help with your finances, BJC EAP can provide counseling for getting a handle on financial issues, managing stress and weathering difficult times. BJC EAP can also assist with referrals to community agencies if needed. Count on BJC EAP. For more information contact us or call 314.747.7490 or toll-free 888.505.6444.