Money is a source of stress for many people. Whether it's eeking out the dollars till payday, worrying about Christmas, half filling the petrol tank, or beating yourself up for taking on debt when you could’ve saved up instead. For many of us money can mean anxiety and uncertainty.
And when money worries are running around our heads, it takes us away from our families and distracts us at work. Financial stress feeds into every area of our lives, including our physical and emotional wellbeing.
But you can take control. There's a new wave of financial services, advice and apps that can step you through how to take charge and stop worrying.
Here are five tips from Love My Money’s CEO and co-founder Tracey Hunter to help you get on top of your money.
1. Stop beating yourself up
First, stop dwelling on past mistakes. That lunch you bought after swearing you'd make sandwiches all week? The ill-fitting top you couldn't be bothered to return? It's done, and it's time to move on. What matters is making good decisions from now on.
The fact is, no one is perfect at managing money. So don't dwell on the past - start planning right now for how you can move forward.
2. Protect yourself from emotional spending
While we all have our own approach to spending, research shows our relationship with money has a real impact on our health and wellbeing. And our spending habits can be triggered by how we are feeling…a bit of a vicious circle. So what can you do to help protect yourself from these times?
You need to put boundaries in place. Allocate a 'bucket' of money to what it is you enjoy spending on, then understand that once it's spent, you’ll have to wait until it is topped up again - probably next pay day.
If you love eating out, just decide how much you're happy to spend at restaurants, and then cut back on the takeaways. Got a holiday coming up? Perhaps you could curb your shopping spending, and channel it into the travel fund.
There are compromises to be found, without losing all the joy from your life. So get the coffee - once you've got the boundaries in place.
3. Take a holistic view
It is important to remember that there are two sides to money management – short term cash flow needs, and long term wealth creation needs. And these two separate money needs can create a tug of war between them.
Everyday Kiwis often don’t realise they are doing really well. Maybe your KiwiSaver is growing, or your mortgage is being paid off. Because these things move slowly, and often out of sight, we don’t recognise the success of what we are doing.
Try the 'What I'm Worth' Journey on lovemymoney.co.nz, and in less than 10 minutes, you'll have an assessment of exactly what you have, or don't.
It'll weigh up debts, assets, savings and loan repayments, and give you a fast and accurate idea of whether you're coming out ahead, or you're lagging behind.
It'll even take your savings rates and debt repayments and project five, 10, and 20 years ahead, so you can see what the future might hold for you.
Combine this with the 'My Budget' Journey to see both your short term and long term needs, to help you make good decisions about your future.
4. Get the right advice
Seeking financial help is something we typically put off for as long as possible. There are lots of reasons for this - maybe you don't think you earn enough, or you're not sure a money service truly has your best interests at heart. Some of us just don't know where to start when it comes to getting money advice.
It's important to find an independent service that has your best interests in mind, looks at the whole picture of your financial life, and gives you the tools to save, budget, and change the way you feel about money.
Remember that banks, investment advisers, and mortgage and insurance providers can only offer their own financial services, so you may be seeing only a narrow view of the full range of options.
Love My Money’s no-nonsense plain English and interconnected Journeys can be used to see where you are at financially and to explore opportunities to get ahead. You may want to pay off short term debt quicker, or prepare for financial shocks in the future.
Love My Money has also partnered with carefully chosen financial providers that you can access for free and securely share your personal data with. Or you can share with your existing provider.
5. Deal with your debt
Too many Kiwis live in a world of debt. It’s easy to get into, but can be very difficult to get out of and it’s affecting our ability as individuals, families and a country to get ahead financially.
Access the 'Short-term Debt' Journey on lovemymoney.co.nz - and in less than 10 minutes, you'll have an optimal debt repayment plan along with a simple view of the impact of making extra payments.
Love My Money also has a ‘Saving Up for Spending’ Journey, where the goal is to set and achieve savings targets for things you want.
Love My Money’s CEO Tracey Hunter discusses ‘How to pay off debt’ on The AM Show.
This article was created for Love My Money.