In these economic times,
are South Asians safe from the financial concerns of the entire
nation? Unfortunately, some of the companies that have hired us
are laying people off. Some of your friends and family members may
be losing jobs and getting worried about their finances. Financial
worries may be something you never thought you would have, but they
could lead to increased stress and anxiety for the first time in
So how do you stay financially healthy in the midst
of these economic times? Get back to the basics.
- Determine how much money is coming in. Yes,
it is very basic, but the first step to financial health is knowing
exactly how much money you are making each month. Look at your paycheck
each week and know how much is actual take-home pay after taxes,
social security and other deductions. Begin to document this amount,
either in a basic Excel spreadsheet, or in a software system, such
as Quicken or Money.
- Document your monthly expenditures. Look at
your rent or mortgage payment, utility bills, credit cards statements
and ATM withdrawals and begin writing down your expenses for each
month. Document everything you are spending money on – eating
out, groceries, gas and girl’s nights out.
- Notice where you are spending extra money.
Do you go shopping when you are stressed out and have a lot of shoes
as a result? Do you go out to eat every night because you don’t
know how to cook? Do you have a caramel macchiato every day as an
afternoon pick-me-up? As you begin to document your expenses, your
awareness regarding where you are spending your money will begin
- Begin to cut expenses in areas that you can.
Now that you know where you are spending your money, notice the
little (or big, depending on your financial situation) changes that
you can begin to take today to cut spending. Can you cut coupons
to save on grocery bills? Can you look for sales at the malls when
you are in need of a new pair of jeans? These days, retailers are
looking to make money in any way they can. If you are going to buy
something anyway, look for deals at local retailers or online and
find frugal alternatives. Begin cutting expenses in one or two places
- Use the extra savings to either pay down debt or save.
If you have debt – student loans, credit card payments or
car payments – begin to pay down the debts with the highest
interest rates first. With the exception of your mortgage payment
(if you have one), try to pay off all other debts. Once they are
paid off, start saving. Financial expert Suze Orman suggests keeping
a minimum of eight months’ worth of savings for emergencies.
Begin saving as much as you can today.
- Invest wisely. These days, with the market
the way it is, investing in the stock market, your 401K or real
estate may seem scary. But if you have the savings cushion described
above and can begin investing in your first home, right now might
be the time to find a good deal. Or, if you already have a home,
you may be able to find stocks or mutual funds that are good long-term
investments. Determine your financial goals and search for a good
financial advisor who can get you started in investing your money
Financial concerns are a huge stress-inducer. If you are worried
about your money today, it could be affecting your health, which
could lead to more financial concerns in the future in the form
of doctors’ bills and medication. Begin to take control of
your finances today by taking the steps described above. Financial
health is a process and can be done step by step. Change one habit
today and bring financial health to your and your family’s
Monica Thakrar is a life coach focused on helping clients live a more balanced, joyful life. She uses a holistic approach to personal transformation and offers a free consultation for those interested in living up to their fullest potential. She can be contacted at email@example.com, or for more information, check out her website at www.joyfulsoulcoaching.com.