How to Worry Less and Save More: A Visual Guide to Reducing Financial Stress [INFOGRAPHIC]

Apparently, April 16 was National Stress Awareness Day. Lord knows money, or the lack thereof, sometimes stresses me out. Of course, the MintLife blog took advantage of this by sharing this great infographic on financial stress, how it affects our lives and ways to beat it:

  1. Plan and save for major purchases
  2. Keep track of expenses
  3. Learn to appreciate what you have (a.k.a. stop keeping up with the Joneses)
  4. Negotiate or consolidate your debts

Good reminders. I just lurve infographics!

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One step forward, two steps back

I was feeling pretty optimistic about life until I started receiving medical bills for an annual checkup and extra tests. Then last week, I took my car to get repaired. Of course, that bill was sky high. I had to put that on a card.

I need to rant.

I really thought I was making headway with paying down credit. Then even more debt piled on within a two-week period, making a mountain out of a molehill.

Ughhh! So now I’m thinking about depleting my emergency savings to pay the medical bills, getting on a payment plan and/or negotiating the bill. Decisions, decisions. I see why so many people can go into bankruptcy because of medical bills.

This morning, this bleak story caught my eye. Headline: Student debt holds back many would-be home buyers. It was too real. This weekend, I caught up with old friends and said I’d like to buy a home within five years, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it on my own.

I’m trying to focus on my blessings – the fact that I have medical insurance, a mode of transportation, a job I like, great friends and family, clothes on my back and so on. But issues with money – or the lack thereof – have clouded the sun.

Hung up on clothes | First quarter reflection

I’m sitting here looking at three dresses on Target.com. They’re super cute. One – a flirty, mint green number – would be perfect for spring and summer. I could wear it to my cousin’s wedding over Easter weekend. The other is a simple elbow sleeve Little Black Dress. The third is a royal blue version of one of my favorite fall/winter dresses.

The total cost $60.80. They’re on sale, and shipping is free. Good deal, right?

I can’t deny it’s a good deal, but I can deny that they are necessities. They’re clearly wants. I already have three or four LBDs.

After the financial fast, I promised not to buy any clothes until April 1. I succeeded. Now, it’s April 8, and I can’t bring myself to buy the dresses. Then I said that I would not buy clothes unless they were high quality. I think they are.

But I could spend that $60 elsewhere. On a medical bill I didn’t expect to be so high. On reducing debt. On gas. On anything but these dresses. I have Michelle Singletary’s voice in my head saying, “If it’s on your ass, then it’s not an asset.”

I did perfectly fine wearing what was already in my closet from January to March. What is my hang-up now? Do I think the deal is so good that I have to get it? Do I think these dresses should be a reward for not shopping for three months?

This week, I started looking into the movement to work with a closet of 30 or so items. I was amazed at what these folks accomplished with a clean and lean closet. This woman’s capsule wardrobe of 33 items suited her just fine (pun intended). This woman’s minimalist wardrobe was full of fun pieces, including the Target dress I’m trying to get in blue.

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She wrote: “Wouldn’t it be great to open your closet and LOVE every single thing in there?  Yes, it would!  And we do that by filling it with just that – things we love, not things that are cute.”

If anything, I need to purge my closet. Not add to it.

I’ve done a lot over the first quarter to get on the right track. I’m grateful for those tiny successes – paying off a few charge cards, not using credit cards and amassing half of the $1,000 emergency fund.

But I need to do more.

I need to freelance more. I’m not really sticking to a budget as much as I’m tracking my expenses and not going all willy nilly with spending beyond my bills. The envelope system is looking pretty good right now.

Let’s see what this second quarter brings.

Deepak Chopra’s ‘secret’ to making money

Physician, educator and best-selling author Dr. Deepak Chopra was interviewed by CNBC’s Sharon Epperson for a segment of “Your Money Your Future”. He says the road to wealth must include a holistic approach to wellness and emotional health. [VIDEO]

“Recognize that the purpose of money is to enjoy life and have good experiences and not use money to make money … to make money … to make money,” he said.

Ask yourself:

  • What are my unique passions and talents?
  • Who is in need of these services and products I can create?
  • Who can I connect with?

“This is the secret of a successful entrepreneur.”