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Janice France-Pettit: Reduce fiscal stress with good habits

Union Bank

Posted: February 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

At a time when many Americans may be worried about losing their jobs, ongoing financial strains or even the possibility of bankruptcy and losing their home, stress may be taking a heavy toll on their health.

According to a national study commissioned by Union Bank, nearly 90 percent of Americans agree that monetary stress can negatively affect one’s health.

However, 60 percent of those surveyed may not be taking the necessary steps to improve fiscal fitness, raising questions as to whether they have the proper financial education to reach their goals.

The following are some tips to help reduce financial stress and in turn improve your fiscal fitness this year:
n Involve your family in developing a financial plan and budget. Check out user-friendly websites, such as www.AmericaSaves.org, for educational resources.

- Write your plan down to help you reach your financial goals. Research by the Consumer Federation of America has shown that adults who commit their plans to paper have twice as much savings and investments than those without written goals. According to the American Heart Association, this also holds true with physical health — those who track their exercise and meals tend to lead generally healthier lives. 

- Set up direct deposit into a savings account and pay yourself on the first of each month.

- Keep track of your consumption habits and challenge yourself to spend only on necessities, such as rent or mortgage, transportation and groceries.  Trim spending on “wants” to help jump start your savings plan.

- Calculate your net worth and use this number as a guideline to develop a plan to increase your net worth this year. Review your investments and make sure your portfolio is balanced and diversified.

- Develop a relationship with a financial adviser to help guide and track your progress. Just as fitness trainers or your physician may help support your health goals, a financial planner can help “train” you to save consistently.

Whether you’re seeking to improve your health or save more money this year, the key to success is to develop a regular routine and commit to a plan. 

Janice France-Pettit is a senior vice president and regional manager for Union Bank, overseeing the Simi Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley region. The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about finances and stress and is not considered financial or tax advice from Union Bank. Please consult your financial or tax adviser. France-Pettit’s column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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