• Manage Financial Stress, Refocus Priorities

    May 24, 2016

    ​Many of life's demands can cause stress. Here is a checklist of things that can help you focus on your priorities and organize your financial goals.

    Track down your expenses for one month

    Download any one of a number of smartphone apps, or carry around a small notepad for one month, and write down your expenses to get a clear picture of how your money is spent.

    Create a written budget

    If you find it difficult to create a budget, try the envelope method: put the money for each spending category in a separate envelope.

    Start an emergency fund

    Take your time to build up your emergency fund, and don’t be discouraged. Contribute a few dollars each week to build it up over time.

    Open a checking account (if you don’t already have one)

    Don’t bounce checks! The fees can add up fast, and so-called “overdraft protection” services can leave you with expensive debt.

    Buy what you can afford

    Be honest with yourself. Don’t become car-poor! Buy a car you can afford so that you have money left over for the other things you want to do. When shopping, if you cannot resist the temptation to overspend, leave your credit card at home. Don’t fall for in-store financing promotions; many may encourage you to overspend and can leave you saddled with high-interest debt.

    Check your credit reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com

    AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized free service that allows you to review your credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies. Maintaining a good credit score can lower your borrowing costs and (in some states) reduce your auto and homeowner’s insurance rates.

    Update your beneficiaries on retirement accounts and insurance policies

    Be sure to update your estate plan, including a will, and beneficiaries whenever you have a major life event such as marriage, divorce, new child, etc.

    Source: John Hancock Retirement Plan Services