4. Debt. Given that this is such a critical piece of my work, I really felt that this would be higher up on the list. But it wasn't. We all owe on something, usually a home mortgage and car loan. But there are also credit cards, and home equity lines of credit, and our old college loans, and new college loans for our kids. Additionally, there are medical bills on top of the usual utility payments we have. Owing money seems to contribute to sleeplessness. This is fixable, but it takes focus and commitment. Take time to list all your debts, including the interest rate, and determine how you want to attack them. There are many ways to pay them off (highest interest rate first, lowest balance first, etc.) Pick the method that works for you and put all your effort and energy into paying them off. Have a family meeting and get everyone on board. See how everyone can help scale back and put extra funds toward paying off debt. You can't do this forever because fatigue will set in, but work on it for a year or two. You can do anything for that long. Vertex42 has some great debt reduction spreadsheets to help you get started.
3. Work Stress. I know moms in every category: working moms, stay at home moms, moms who stay home and work, part-time working moms. Work stress seems to shroud all of us. Sometimes, the workplace itself is filled with negativity and change, or the work itself is mentally challenging. Sometimes the work is boring. Sometimes a role change causes stress as we stretch our skills. Even an exciting new venture that we love can be stressful. These seem to be the things that cause dark circles under our eyes. Ask yourself this: what would I do with my life if I didn't have to work? What is my passion? Just think about what you would do if money were no object. You can build your financial tower so that you are in a position to do what you love. Get the fundamentals in place, be sure you and your family are protected, sock away money for a rainy day, and you are ready to jump in.
2. Kids and Family. Yep, our kids are high on our list of stressors. When they are little, we wonder if they are getting enough to eat, if they are sleeping well, and if they have any physical issues. Then they grow into teens and we begin to stress about the friends they have, the decisions they make, and their attitudes toward us and others. We want to resolve the differences among our kids and their frenemies. We still want them to eat and sleep well. Then they head off to college and we ponder their safety and their grades, wonder what they will do as they grow up, and if they are eating and sleeping well. Family issues and problems get in the way here too as we work through issues with our parents, siblings and other close relations. Sometimes, the care of a family member causes stress as we may have to give up what we want to do for that which we have to do. But even when caring is your gift, it can wear you down. Money can't fix any of this, but having a stash on the side can help ease the burden. Having money in a savings account can help you worry less about that trip to the emergency room or college funds. The right insurance can help ease the pressure of hiring caregivers for an ailing parent or physical therapy for an autistic child. The only way to protect your children and family members if you are not around is by having a valid will that states your intentions and assigns caregivers for those you love. There is no substitute for a mom, but having a plan in place is the next best thing.
1. Busyness. Ah, the busyness of life. On top of paying bills, working and family, there are the little everyday things that we have to do to keep our lives on track. Housework, grocery shopping, appointments, and the lists in our heads keep us up at night. It seems that there is always another church committee that needs volunteers, another sport to sign up for, another community meeting to go to. The busyness of life wears us out as we try to do it all. While I was at first surprised that this was #1 on the list, the more I thought about it, the less surprised I was. Do you ever want to give it all up and simplify your life? Would you move to a smaller house, take on fewer but more meaningful volunteer work, let someone else shuttle the kids? It sounds very tempting. I don't have any solutions for this one, but lately I have been finding lots of articles on how to live a little more simply than we do. I'll be posting them on Twitter at #LiveSmaller, so feel free to follow online.
Do these worries match yours? If so, I totally get it. I have them all, too. Let's work through them together.
Pamela J. Horack, CFP® of Pathfinder Planning LLC provides financial planning advice for a simple fee to young adults and working families in North and South Carolina through group classes, one-on-one planning, and ongoing advice.