If money stress is keeping you awake at night, do yourself a favor and confront your concerns head-on. Here, three simple ways to ease your worries.
I don’t know where my money goes each month.
Just do this: Go to mint.com, a free online money-management program, and use the immensely helpful basic budgeting tools. Once you sign up, you’ll be prompted to link the site to your bank and credit-card accounts. Within minutes, mint.com automatically categorizes your costs and shows how much you’re spending in different areas. Then you can easily see where you need to cut back.
I’m scared to invest in stocks but worried I’m missing out.
Just do this: Start slowly. Take $1,000 from your savings account and place it in an index fund, where you have a good chance to earn solid returns without taking on too much risk. Consider Schwab’s S&P 500 Index Fund. It requires only a $100 initial investment and, at press time, boasted a 9 percent return for the year 2010. Suddenly you’re in the game.
I’m clueless about how much I’ll need to retire one day.
Just do this: Pull together a few numbers: how much you earn, how much you have in savings, and how much Social Security you’ll be due at retirement age (go to ssa.gov for an estimate). Then run them through T Rowe Price’s easy-to-use retirement calculator (troweprice.com/ric). You’ll learn how much money you’ll have each month in retirement, which will let you know if you’re on track.