Friday, August 7, 2009

Your Mental Money Misery Index

Does anyone remember the "misery index?" Economists simply added the inflation rate and the unemployment rate to get a number to measure how tough things really were. This began in the late 70s.
Not that I'm trying to write a miserable article - I'm thinking that maybe you figure you have so many financial things to do that you aren't quite sure what to work on first. So, pull out a blank sheet of paper and make a list of the things in your current financial situation that bother you the most.
You can change your situation, far more than you realize. You just need to boil it down to individual actions and then do the actions.
To jog your thinking, run through these questions. Pick out the areas among the questions where you feel uneasy, and then jot down an action item or two related to that item. Now, I'm calling it an action item loosely - you might not know what the action is, so maybe write down "learn about..." or "do something about..." and then the item.
  • Do you have some cash in hand in case the auto mechanic, doctor, or air conditioner repairman gives you a bit of expensive bad news? Or, would you be stuck putting the expense on a credit card?
  • Do you have a will? Do you know how your family would manage finally if you were gone?
  • How's your insurance situation? If you're a renter, do you have renter's insurance? Do you have life insurance, and are you happy about what it's costing you? Do you have health insurance?
  • Are you actively working on an effective retirement plan?
  • Do you argue with family members about how to manage your money?
  • Do you have people (including relatives, especially adult children) you feel are mooching from you instead of taking care of their own responsbilities?
  • Are you and your spouse in agreement about money?
  • Are your children learning how to manage money?
  • How's your career? Are you good at your work, and do you enjoy it? How's your paycheck?
  • Do you save a little each month, or do you spend a little more than you make?
  • Are you spending too much? Earning too little?
  • Do you wish you could support charities?
  • Do you know how much you spend?
  • Does your checkbook balance?
  • Would I benefit from outside help and support as I change my financial outlook?
  • Do you feel pretty good about your money situation, or do you feel worried and stressed about it?

Leave the action items list out for a while. Mull it over a few days, and then decide which things are the most important to you.

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