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8 ways to combat financial stress

The Lengel family of Freeport, NY
The Lengel family of Freeport, NY
Photo by Marque Creative

When we're feeling stressed financially, it can be challenging to understand the next step we need to take, much less actually take it. Leslie Talbot, marketing strategist in product and advice sales at Thrivent, offers these ways to help you make purposeful decisions for your future.

1. Prepare for the “certainty of uncertainty.

Have three to six months of emergency savings, which can help with home repairs or unforeseen purchases. Set a series of milestones like $100, $500, $1,000, or use personally meaningful milestones like one month’s mortgage or rent and work your way up toward your goal of three to six months. And once you’ve used your emergency fund, don’t forget to replenish it before the next incident strikes.

2. Protect your family with insurance.

By planning ahead, you can reduce the financial stress of an unexpected health emergency or death, allowing your loved ones to focus on what truly matters in a difficult time.

  • See if your employer offers life insurance as an employee benefit. Combining this with an additional policy may help you get to a meaningful amount of coverage for your family.
  • If disability insurance is offered through your employer, consider signing up. Adding individual supplemental disability income insurance to an existing group plan can help lower overall coverage costs.

3. Establish a spending plan.

Whether you use an app, a spreadsheet or a more creative method, the best budget is one you can stick to.

4. Use credit wisely.

The best way to use a credit card is to pay off the full balance every month. Keep your credit utilization (the amount you owe compared to your available credit) under 30%.

5. Make a plan to tackle debt.

Always pay at least the minimum payment on all of your credit accounts. If you have high-interest debt, such as credit cards or payday loans, try to negotiate a lower rate with the lender or work with your bank or credit union to explore lower-interest options while you pay down your debt.

6. Take small steps toward your goals.

Save early and work on increasing your saving as your situation improves. Every little bit helps. Schedule a transfer of a few dollars to your savings account every payday. When you get a raise, immediately increase the amount of your automatic savings transfer before the dollars are spent.

7. Take advantage of a company match in your retirement savings plan.

At a minimum, contribute what the company will match, if you can. It’s free money you shouldn’t leave on the table.

8. Contact your Thrivent financial advisor.

They can guide you toward financial clarity and also direct you to resources for debt management, such as Money Canvas.

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