6 Signs That You’ve Gotten M.A.D. (Money Anxiety Disorder)

Posted on Wednesday 24 November 2010

The American Psychological Association conducted a survey in late 2008 and found that 80% of the people who responded said that the financial crisis was causing them a significant amount of stress.

Anxiety over money issues has produced a new ailment that is affecting a large part of the population, particularly women. Psychology professionals have named this affliction: Money Anxiety Disorder.

Women tend to be more highly stressed about money issues because in general they are not the major breadwinners; they are the care-givers, concerned about their family’s future and well-being. And, in relationships, there usually isn’t an open and equal financial partnership between husband and wife.

Financial issues are the primary cause of conflict and divorce among couples. As the economy continues to struggle with high unemployment, tight credit, low housing values and high foreclosure rates, couples are struggling to cope with financial problems and M.A.D. behavior.

The following are six tell-tale symptoms indicating you have gotten M.A.D.:

1. You have an overall sense of fear or dread thinking about money.

2. You are in a panic about your husband’s or your job security and income.

3. You have a constant fear that your financial safety net (retirement and emergency savings) will disappear forever.

4. There’s a feeling of confusion, anxiety and shame about your lack of financial knowledge and  awareness.

5. You feel angry about the lack of communication between you and your partner regarding  your personal finances.

6. All financial discussions between you and your partner quickly turn into arguments.

4 Ways to Overcome M.A.D. mania:

1. Money and money matters aren’t scary, they’re just math. Not knowing anything is scary. Tell your husband that you are afraid and concerned about your health (because you are anxious all the time) and that you would like to sit down with him to go over the numbers together. Set a day and time for a “money date.” Gather together (ideally with his help) all of the household statements and bills so you can create a monthly budget and “cash-flow statement” during your date. A “cash-flow statement” is just what it sounds like, a calculation of the money or income coming into the household measured against the money going out or expenses, just like a math equation. If there’s more money coming in than going out there’s a positive balance which can be turned into savings. If the balance is negative then either income has to go up or expenses have to go down. Knowledge is power. Once you have the facts and numbers you can develop open communication and build a strategy together. Following a clear financial plan with your husband will eliminate a lot of your anxiety and fear.

2. Contact a NON-PROFIT credit counseling agency if you’re faced with a large amount of debt and not enough income to support basic expenses and monthly loan payments. A counselor will review your budget, income, assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) then offer solutions and resources. To locate legitimate non-profit agencies go to NFCC.org (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) or AICCCA.org (Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies).

3. Understand that the market goes up and down and up. Certainly investments can lose value on paper but it isn’t a realized loss until you sell them. Focus on what you can control in your finances and take a longer view of the market. As Warren Buffett said: “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.”  If you have one, speak to your financial advisor or retirement plan manager about your concerns. To get a wide range of information on finance-related topics and available resources go to MyMoney.gov.

4. De-stress by going for a walk or exercising in any way you like. Anxiety can take a physical toll on your heart, head and on neck, back and shoulder muscles. The temptation is to sit and stew but that won’t help either your mind or your body. Meditation, yoga and hypnosis are also ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

About the Author:

Financial survival counselor, Hollis Colquhoun has more than twenty years experience in the financial industry and co-authored “Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide.” When not working as an Accredited Financial Counselor or promoting financial education for women, she pursues her interest in martial arts. She has a black belt in both Karate and Taekwondo. Learn more about her book, read more money tips and sign up for her newsletter on upcoming F.E.S.T. (Financial Education and Survival Training) seminars by visiting www.FinancialSurvivalTools.com. Contact Hollis at WomenEmpoweringThemselves@gmail.com.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Ways To Avoid Debt Settlement Scams

Posted on Monday 22 November 2010

Author Bio : This is a Guest Post by Marc Brown, a Personal Finance writer associated with Oak View Law Group. Besides, he maintains his own personal finance sites.

Debt has become a common issue in America as every second person is struggling to get out of the trap of debt. They often feel very helpless in this situation. Here, an opportunity is created for the scam companies to bait the consumer in the name of a debt relief program.

The consumers who have overwhelming debts often take help from a relief program in order to settle their owed amount. They often fail to verify regarding the authenticity of the company so they land getting in to the trap of a fraud company.

Recently the list of people filing complaint with the FBI has increased as the scam companies have canopied the financial market. Check if the company you are enrolling with has an accreditation of Better Business Bureau (BBB) and in alliance with the National Consumer Debt Council.

The debt settlement questions associated with scam might arise in the mind of the indebted consumers. This article might help the debtors to avoid debt settlement scam by following the few crucial tips.

These are the following tips:

1. An agreement with the company needs to be signed by the debtor while listing himself with a debt settlement company. If a company only concentrates on the monthly payment and avoids revealing the initial fee then you can assume to have fallen in to the snare of the scam company. In these situations, often the companies do not provide document of their dealing to the debtors.

2. Try to get more information about the company by going through the company website. You can even investigate regarding the authenticity of the company by verifying the details at the Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission’s Office. The video testimonial given by the other clients would help you to take right decision and also try to review the feedback forms from the clients of the company.

If the company is BBB accredited and associated with any pro consumer group you can rely on it.

3. A genuine debt settlement company would avoid asking you to share your personal financial information. They would request you to provide the name of the creditors you are indebted to and amount along with the interest rate you owe to each of them. You can avoid taking the service of the company that asks you to provide with the social security number.

4. In order to avoid the fraud always read the agreement document carefully. Before enrolling with the company, make sure that you are aware of the fee structure that no hidden fees would be demanded from you at the end of the settlement program.

5. If you cannot find a reliable settlement company then ask your friends or relative who have recently settled their debt for help. As they have taken up the settlement program then they might be able to suggest a trustworthy company.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
10 Free Sites to Help You Balance Your Budget

Posted on Wednesday 17 November 2010

There are many different sites online that can help you establish and stick to a budget, save money on your current bills, find shopping deals, and educate yourself about personal finance and debt management. Here are 10 free sites every savvy person should explore.

Mint – This award-winning personal finance software can be used to plan budgets and track financial transactions. Mint’s service also analyzes your spending to help you find new ways to save.

moneyStrands – This free money management site makes it easy to link all of your online accounts so that you can closely track your spending and savings. You can also use moneyStrands to set up a personal, household, or monthly budget.

Thrive – Thrive catalogs all of your transactions so that you can see what you are spending your money on. The site also analyzes your transactions to give you a financial health score and calculates the amount of money you need to save to achieve your financial goals.

BillShrink – BillShrink is designed to save you money on specific items, such as cell phone plans, satellite TV service, credit card rates, and gas. All you have to do is enter in information about your usage, and BillShrink will tell you which companies will save you the most.

In Good Cents – In Good Cents is a couponing site meant to help you cut your grocery bill. The site regularly posts sales ads and special deal lists for grocery stores, pharmacies, and super stores like Target and Wal-Mart. Other site features include information about free samples, couponing, holiday shopping, and cash back programs.

Wesabe – Wesabe is an online community of people who share information about shopping, saving, debt management, and other finance topics. After registering for a free account on Wesabe, you can join groups of people who have similar financial goals.

FatWallet.com – FatWallet.com can help you save on almost anything you might buy. Site members and administrators post shopping deals and coupons. You can also use the site to compare prices before you shop and get cash back on your purchases.

Wise Bread – This blogger community provides tips for living on a small budget. Wise Bread also offers discussion forums, links to 100+ personal finance blogs, and hand-picked freebies and deals from around the web.

Feed the Pig – This site is part of a national campaign sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and The Advertising Council. Feed the Pig offers savings tips, debt management tools, quizzes, financial challenges, and a discussion forum.

Debt Ski – At first glance, Debt Ski might look like a Mario-like pig-racing game. But it is actually designed to help you learn how to limit debt, maximize savings, and live within a budget.

This is a guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes about homeowners insurance and other personal finance topics for www.homeownersinsurance.org.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
New Side Gig

Posted on Monday 15 November 2010

Mr. Savvy recently started another business.  Needless to say, there have been numerous expenses incurred along the way.  From the business license to business cards, seems like we’re shelling out every week.  He decided he wanted a banner for advertising his business.  I was contacted by someone from Build A Design, they create banners and signs so I decided to give them a try.  The banner just arrived recently, and I am very pleased. First of all, it arrived earlier than expected. Once I opened the box, I was surprised how sharp and crisp the colors were. The font effects really made the letters look 3-Dimensional! I used my own photo, and understand now why my original submission was rejected due to its low resolution.

Creating the banner was actually enjoyable. There were many pre-designed options to choose from. By browsing the options, my creative mind went into overdrive and led to me enhancing my own banner design. Uploading the file was fast and easy. This is where I experienced my only challenge. Apparently, the resolution of the image that I uploaded was too low. It would have been helpful to identify resolution requirement before I started. I was so anxious to create the new design after browsing the website, the image requirements were overlooked.

The customer service was very helpful by quickly resolving the problem. After the source file was sent, the banner design was finalized. I was expecting 2 weeks for delivery, and it arrived about a week after the order was placed. The quality of the banner was better than expected! The metal grommets were installed through 2 layers of vinyl. I’m very confident that I will enjoy this excellent banner for long, long time.  So if you’re in the market, definitely check out Build A Sign.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances