Financial anxiety is a common issue for seniors. Many older adults live on fixed incomes and have more expenses than they can easily cover. Moreover, it’s relatively common for people after retirement be uncertain about their financial situation and not know, realistically, how stable you are – or aren’t. This uncertainty can breed anxiety that isn't truly supported by reality.
If you are anxious about providing for your loved ones when you are gone or how your money will be handled if you become unable to manage your own affairs, estate planning can put you at ease. At Drendel & Jansons Law Group we can help you feel more confident about your future and your family’s future.
In the meantime, if you are anxious about how far your resources will stretch during your life, here are a few more tips for how to navigate financial anxiety in a healthy, productive way:
Identify the Causes
Although anxiety is damaging on its own when it becomes overwhelming, stress can serve a legitimate function. Stress and anxiety warn us about danger and help us recognize risks in time to avoid them. Sometimes, financial anxiety comes from genuine financial danger – learning how to recognize real financial danger and distinguish it from merely a concern is the first step toward finding a solution.
If you are in this boat, consider hiring a financial consultant to look over your situation. They will be able to help you figure out if you are in financial trouble, and, if you are, give you tools to get out of it. If they determine you are financially stable, then they can help you determine the best practices you can use to maintain that stability which will, ideally, put your mind at ease. They will help you identify real problems and eliminate the anxiety.
Control Your Expenses
Once you have a strong sense of where you are, you can come up with a plan for where you are going. For seniors on a fixed income, this plan may boil down to limiting expenses wherever possible. Finding cost-saving measures will help your income go further and help you develop a sense of control and ownership over your budget. This can put you in a far more stable position, making you better able to handle costs which may come up down the road.
There are several ways to reduce expenses without giving up quality of life. For example, you can buy non-perishable foods in bulk, which can save you money per unit. Buying second hand where possible, using sales and coupons to cut costs, and cutting out subscriptions or services you don’t really use are great ways to reduce spending.
Consider Adding Income
If you are able to do so, adding sources of income can go a long way toward reducing financial anxiety. For example, you could consider working as a consultant in your field. Freelance work like this gives you the power to set your own schedule and workload, so you can take on exactly as much – or as little – as you like, allowing you to maintain the freedom of retirement while still bringing in some extra money.
Another good option for retirees is to invest in a rental property. Although this requires spending money upfront, it allows you to bring in passive income month to month. If you’re a natural at managing people and you feel comfortable taking on the risks of investing in property, then this can be an excellent additional source of income during retirement.
Stick to a Budget
Another important tool for managing financial anxiety is a healthy level of awareness. Simply put, you should have, manage, and stick to a budget. Keeping track of your expenses and income is the only way to ensure you are not accidentally spending more than you truly have to spend. It’s also your best bet for effectively saving what you can and keeping expenses sustainable well into the future.
If you don’t already have a budget, or you haven’t updated yours in a while, take some time to create one. Use intuitive categories to keep track of how much you are spending and which of those expenses are – and are not – flexible. This empowers you to set reasonable limits and keep unnecessary spending to a reasonable limit.
However, it’s important to distinguish the difference between awareness and obsession. You really only need to interact with your budget under two circumstances: when you spend or make money, and when you’re evaluating your spending over a specific period. Monthly is a good rule for evaluations – more often than that, and you are likely to start developing obsessive budget habits which do more harm than good.
Seek Help When Necessary
Finally, it’s important to recognize that some types of financial anxiety are neither productive nor healthy. For example, if you find you are unable to think of anything but your finances, or stress about your budget interferes with your daily life, then you should consider seeking professional help.
Remember – extreme stress causes physical health issues as much as it impairs emotional health. Seeking care is necessary to prevent serious complications. A mental health professional can give you the coping tools you need to manage this stress and reduce its intensity so that you can live your life, happy and healthy.
This article is provided courtesy of a guest writer to provide some helpful advice that goes beyond the highly technical legal issues we deal with at the Drendel & Jansons Law Group. If you need help with planning your estate, contact Drendel & Jansons Law Group to get started.