As we approach the end of the year, many will find themselves in a reoccurring cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. Keeping up with the latest trends, buying unnecessary items, and binge spending can cause a ripple effect in your finances. Realistically, the everyday worker can easily find themselves spending money they simply just don’t have. If you are ending the year in debt, now is the time to think about starting the New Year off right by creating a budget and sticking to it. For those on a fixed income, financial stress can be overwhelming and it may seem there is no way out. The anecdote to lessening or even eliminating stress can be just as simple as understanding and applying the basic concepts of budgeting.

The budgeting voyage

There are a plethora of reasons why we, at times, feel like there are financial mountains in our way that seem to be unmovable. Lack of money is one of those reasons. Learning how to budget can reduce stress and move the money mountain that seems too high and too wide. Budgeting works even for the novice person who has never taken any specialized courses in finance. The reality is that budgeting is something we typically do in our day to day lives without knowing it. For example, if you go to the grocery store or pay a utility bill, and you set aside $150 from your paycheck, you have just done budgeting. This sounds simple, but for many, maintaining or sticking to a formal budget is an afterthought.

Case in point, although you may have set aside that $150, there is always something else you randomly buy that was not in the initial budget which leads to overspending beyond your budget. Embarking on a voyage to fix a bad financial situation starts with you pulling it all together and taking the first step.

If interested, a great book to learn how to budget by America’s favorite financial coach David Ramsey is called The Total Money Makeover, which personally helped me quite a bit. It is very insightful for both beginners as well as the advanced financial expert.

The rewards of saving

If you are not comfortable with the concept of budgeting, searching for templates to download or taking a financial course, consider saving.

To do this, start off with one or two items you can cut from your spending, such as fast food. An easy way to do this is by taking a look at your bank account and totaling up what you spent on fast food in a month’s time, then work to reduce that cost. Cooking meals at home is a good solution to the fast food spending problem and will save money over time. The best way to save is through consistency.

Secondly, you can clip coupons. Couponing is a popular and growing trend as there are an increasing number of Facebook groups that find the latest super deals. According to recent research data, in 2012, 79.8 percent of shoppers surveyed were regular coupon users which increased over five years prior.

Future trends estimate that by 2020, every shopper will be using a coupon discount of some sort. You might be wondering what saving has to do with minimizing stress. A study conducted by the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that there is a causal relationship between stressful life events and major depression. The study revealed further that about one third of this association is non causal since those predisposed to major depression select themselves into high-risk environments. If we ourselves can minimize our spending and save more, there's a greater chance we can prolong life, be stress free and have peace of mind.

Besides, life is about far more than worrying about the shortage of money.

Financial preparedness is the next best step towards learning how to stop the cause of worrying, like negative cash flow. It is the end of the year, but it is not the end of the world. Now is the time to live stress free, save more and spend less!

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