Budgeting & Saving

3 Financial Tools to Help Reduce Stress

I recently found an old letter that I wrote to myself when I was very broke and extremely stressed. I wrote the letter and saved it so that I could look back and laugh. I knew that I would make it through that stressful time eventually. I was stressed because I needed to take care of the brakes on my car but I had no money! I was so scared that my brakes were going to give out on me before I had the chance to pay for them to be fixed. If I had simply saved some money in an emergency savings account, I could have saved myself the stress.

Money and finances are the top stressors according to the American Psychological Association. They recently released the Stress in America survey. According to the survey, 72% of adults report feeling stressed about money at least some of the time. Millennials are feeling this even more; 75% consider money to be a significant source of stress. With April being National Stress Awareness month its time to find some ways to combat financial stress.

A Budget Can Reduce Stress

Organizing your finances can minimize the time you spend thinking about your finances. Once you have your bills in one place, your due dates scheduled, and as many payments automated as possible, you can relax a bit. A budget is simply a plan for your money, the income and expenses. Figure out where your money is going then automate the payments. Using an online banking account can help you manage your budget easily from anywhere at anytime. For example, Discover Online Banking offers an online savings account that includes a low $500 minimum opening deposit with no minimum balance or monthly maintenance fees. This flexibility can help you manage your financial stress.

A Rainy Day Fund Can Reduce Stress

If I had taken the time to save a solid emergency fund then I would have felt less stress in my situation. For some people, just thinking about saving for an emergency fund can be stressful, but making savings a priority can help reduce stress. Here’s a painless way to save a quick emergency fund. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking to your savings. You can do this very easily in an online savings account. Choose a small amount, maybe 20 or 50 dollars and create a recurring transfer each month or every two weeks. Within a month you will have 40 to 100 dollars saved. As long as you don’t need that money in the first year, you can save a solid chunk of funds for your emergency savings account.

An Accountability Partner Can Reduce Stress

Getting organized and setting up a plan is the easy part, keeping up with that plan can be difficult. However, an accountability partner can help. Talk to someone that can encourage you on your financial journey. Write about your journey if you would prefer or start a blog.

Don’t allow money and finances to stress you out. Set up a budget, build a rainy day fund, and find an accountability partner to keep your stress levels low.

This post was created as part of the Discover partnership program.

Originally posted 2015-04-16 10:00:46.

Budgeting & Saving

3 Simple Ways to Travel on a Budget

At some point in your life the travel bug hits you. For some people it happens earlier than for others. I remember always wanting to travel. So much so that my career ambition was to be a travel agent. After speaking with my guidance counselor, I learned that my career of choice was not as viable as I had hoped. So I decided to travel for fun instead. I traveled out of the country for the first time while attending college.

In college I signed up for a study abroad program. If you are still in college I highly recommend this way of travel as a first timer out of the country. It’s an easy way to get acquainted with the whole process of leaving the country. Spending time outside of your natural habitat and in unfamiliar surroundings really helps you grow as a person. But travel can be expensive and as a college student or recent graduate, you have to watch every penny. So here are some tips to travel on a budget.

Plan Your Travel Budget

If you are a recent college graduate, then you may not have the money to blow on a five-star vacation to Dubai. But if travel is important to you then you should at the very least have a travel budget. I have a separate ‘savings’ account that is specifically for my spontaneous travel and each month I put aside 25 dollars. This process is as simple as setting an automatic transfer and at 25 dollars it doesn’t affect my normal budget significantly. If there is not enough in my normal discretionary spending for a plane ticket, I can tap my travel savings account. I also try to deposit extra money in that account when I have it. This is savings in addition to my 401k and emergency account savings so I feel absolutely no guilt about emptying it every few months. I recently went to the Bahamas for my birthday and I emptied my travel account to enjoy a dolphin encounter. It was amazing! And I am already beginning to save for my next trip.

I want to make two important notes here. Nothing should trump your normal savings plan and you shouldn’t ‘dip’ into normal savings for a trip. Secondly, it’s OK to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for! Just don’t let it put you off track of your ultimate goal. But traveling doesn’t have to be expensive and I’m going to tell you exactly how to budget for travel.

Search for Deals to Fit Your Travel Budget

While saving money for travel is beneficial, it’s important to stretch that travel dollar as far as it will go. Searching for deals on flights and hotels can help you save even more money. Try to find flight deals leaving from your city. You can also set an alert to track the flight prices as they fluctuate. I search for flights with Kayak and watch the confidence meter. It estimates whether the price of a flight will increase or drop over the next seven days. And snagging a good deal while it’s hot is a great method to stretch your travel dollar.

BONUS: Maximize Your Travel Budget

One of the best ways to travel on a regular basis is by using points or Miles that you earn with everyday purchases. For example, with the Discover it® Miles card, you can earn 1.5X Miles on every dollar spent. The card also allows you to fly any airline at any time. And you can also redeem your Miles for a variety of travel purchases including hotels or rental cars! As a new cardmember, Discover will automatically double all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year on your Miles card. Now you can travel even more.

Traveling as a college student or recent college grad does not have to be expensive. If you take the time to search for travel deals and put money aside into a travel fund, you can travel more often this year. And by using a card like the Discover it Miles card, you can even maximize your travel budget.

This post was created in partnership with Discover.

Originally posted 2016-01-27 16:58:57.