STRESS JUDO Black Belt stress management 
Turning stress inTO OPPORTUNITIES 
2010-09-19
Credit card debt problems are very easy to get into.  Even with new laws and regulations, it seems like credit cards companies are still very willing to give you a virtually unlimited supply of credit cards, which translates into a virtually unlimited supply of credit.  Or call it by its real name: debt.  So how can you manage the stress of too much credit card debt?

It is very easy to fall into having too much credit card debt.  You can charge almost anything, but you pay it back with a small payment whenever the bill arrives.  And for most people, the minimum payment on any 1 credit card bill is very little.  So the problem for most people is that they don't realize how much trouble they are getting in, and how quickly.  It's like gaining weight: a lot easier to put on than to take off.

Here are 3 suggestions for dealing with credit card debt, from a creative problem solving perspective:
  1. Stop using credit cards as cash.  Most people don't carry cash in their wallets these days.  If they, it's probably not enough to cover most purchases.  So people carry credit cards and use them like cash, to make purchases. This works if and only if you pay that credit charge at the end of the month when the bill arrives.  The way to make this work is to have a separate checking account that will be the cash you are using the credit card for.  Every time you make a purchase with a credit card, transfer money from your savings or checking account into this account.  Then, when the credit card bill arrives, you will have the cash to pay it off.
 
  1. Don't pay credit with a loan.  Many people fall into the trap of "paying off" a credit card with the new "zero balance transfer" credit card.  Or by refinancing the house or tapping a Home Equity Line Of Credit and "paying off" a credit card.  However, this is not paying off the credit card - it is merely transferring the debt to another credit card or your house.  Hopefully, you will have a lower interest rate, but that's not the point. A new debt does not "pay off" the old debt.  It simply means you are sending your payments to someone new.
 
  1. Prioritize your spending.  Adjust your budget so your credit cards are paid off first.  Now, there are a lot of considerations that go into managing your budget, so don't use this article as your only source of financial advice.  However, if you want to get out from credit card debt, you must make it a priority.  That means making adding to your credit card payment (so it gets paid faster) rather than going out to dinner.  It means not buying that thing you just have to have, at least until you have the cash to pay for it.  It means that you and your family have a hard talk about setting other things aside, like vacations or new cars if the old one still runs, until the credit card debt is paid for.

You can search online to see how long it will take you to pay off your credit card debt if you pay only the minimum payment.  You may even be able to call the credit card company and have them tell you.  It is shocking.  If you really want a heart attack, figure out how much you will pay back, with the interest.  And the worst part is that virtually no credit card is for something that will return either a profit or a substantial part of the original debt.  For example, if you put your car on a credit card, then at least you can sell the car at the end and recover some money.  But things like dinner, coffee, and clothes are not investments.  They are merely purchases.  And every purchase requires cash.  It's just that credit card purchases require the cash much later, and much more.

Picture your life when you have no fear of stress, when people around you admire your cool under pressure, and when your worry over anxiety turns to expectations about opportunities. STRESS JUDO: Black Belt stress management for 3 FREE and EXCLUSIVE reports on how your current stress management system is probably harming you.
Filed under: stress management, anxiety relief, anxiety attacks, worry, I worry too much, Stress Management Strategies, Stress Management Techniques, Family Money Management, Family Budgeting, Personal Budget Planner, Stress And Time Management      Leave a comment

2010-09-14
Many people think of time management as micro-managing your day by filling up every minute with a tedious list of A-B-C prioritized tasks.  Actually, time management is self discipline.  It's the discipline to say no to distractions and interruptions, and stay focused on the task at hand.  Stress management is more than just meditating and exercising.  It is eliminating the stressors in your life.  Stress and time management are actually methods for liberating your life, not restricting it.

Here are 7 tips for using stress and time management to free yourself:

1. In a stressful situation, distinguish between items that need to be done immediately and items that may not be needed to be done at all.  By dividing your tasks in this way, you save time by not wasting it, and you save stress by rejecting the tasks that would put you in time pressure.
2. Focus on assisting where you are needed most.  Too often, people try to help out where there is a need, as opposed to where there is a need for your skill set.  By helping out where you are needed most, you can use your strengths to their best advantage, which reduces your stress.  You also can contribute immediately, which is top-notch time management.
3. Learn to delegate.  Many people have reservations about delegating tasks because they think it makes them look like they think they are superior to the person to whom they delegate.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Proper delegation is assigning tasks to either someone who has better strengths than you or who has more time to accomplish the task.
4. Review how you spent your time and how you handled stressful situations.  By taking some time each day or each week to review these two important areas, you prepare yourself to be better for the next occurrence.  Football teams watch films of games to find areas to improve.  You can playback the movie of each day to find areas to improve.
5. Ask your management for help.  Wherever you are on the organizational chart, someone above you is responsible for strategic planning.  You can reduce stress by making sure your planning is in line with the goals of the organization.  And you can save time by not wasting it deviating to unauthorized tasks.
6. Schedule time that is unscheduled.  Too many time management programs ask that you fill up the entire day.  By scheduling unfilled time throughout the day, you have time to reflect, to plan, and to unwind. You have time to alleviate the pressure of the stress on you during the day, to be better able to fight the stress that is still to come.
7. Develop a quick assessment system for interruptions.  This includes mail, email, and telephone calls.  A simple assessment system is to decide if the interruption can be dealt with in less than 5 minutes - do it now.   If it takes longer, schedule a specific time for it or delegate it and review the progress at that time.  Or, if it is a worthless interruption, discard it.

Stress and time management can be used together to liberate your life.  When you are not constantly under stress, you can spend time planning your life.  And when you have time that is not committed to someone else, you can spend that time stress-free.  There are many components to a comprehensive stress management system, but addressing stress and managing time are 2 of the moist important.

Picture your life when you have no fear of stress, when people around you admire your cool under pressure, and when your worry over anxiety turns to expectations about opportunities. STRESS JUDO: Black Belt stress management for 3 FREE and EXCLUSIVE reports on how your current stress management system is probably harming you.
Filed under: stress management, health effects of stress, anxiety attacks, Health Related Issues From Work Related Stress, worry, I worry too much, Stress Management Strategies, Stress Management Techniques, Executive Leadership Coaching, Stress And Time Management      Leave a comment

2010-09-13
The first step in creating a successful budget is creating your own personal budget planner.  The key is the "personal" part.  There are plenty of templates, software programs, and websites that can give you suggestions of how a budget should be organized, or what items should go into a budget.  But when it comes to your personal budget, only you are best qualified to decide what it should look like.  This is because your spending patterns are personal to you and your family; and may not have the same categories as these pre-packaged planners.  Poorly managed finances can add almost unbearable stress to an individual or family.  Proper stress management must include some budgeting.

Here are 8 steps to tracking your spending, the first step to successful budgeting.

    1. Give each person who spends the money a way to easily record his or her spending.  This can be a small notebook, the memo function on a cell phone, or email.  The key is to capture the data in as small an entry as possible.
    2. Appoint one person to gather the records and put them in a spreadsheet or data base very frequently.  It can be daily or weekly.  It should not be longer than once per week, because people will forget whether "food $27.78" was for groceries or fast food.
    3. As you are creating this tracking, start developing categories that are meaningful to you.  For some people, "food" may be enough.  For other people, "food" may need to be broken down into "groceries," "eating out," and "lunches."
    4. Have the family discuss together both the categories and the goals and priorities of the budget.  If the goal is to stop using credit cards, then the person who uses the credit cards the most must understand and accept this.
    5. Record spending that you don't see, such as deductions for taxes or automatic payments for certain loans or bills.
    6. Record cash spending, but not cash withdrawals.  Never enter "ATM cash $100."  The withdrawal merely moves the money from one place to another.  What you are capturing here is the spending of the money withdrawn.
    7. Include categories that you want to be goals in the budget when you develop it.  For example, if "saving for children's college" will be a goal, then include that here as a category, even if you are not spending there right now.
    8. A primary goal during the tracking period is to not add to credit card debt or other credit lines.  The reason for this is that purchasing something with a credit card is not "spending."  The payment you make in a few months to the credit card company for this purchase is the spending.  If you add to credit card debt while you are tracking your spending, all you are doing is deferring your budget.  Once you realize this, explain it to your Congress-person.

Do this tracking for as long as you feel is necessary.  One month may be enough to get your family's spending down enough to build a budget.  Or it may take several months, especially if some people cannot stop using the credit card.  But at some point, you and your family will feel comfortable that you have gathered enough information to build a budget.

By tracking your spending and developing your personal and family priorities, you will create a personal budget planner that is actually personal.  And, by including each member of the family in setting the priorities and goals, and in gathering the spending, you have a much higher chance of sticking to the budget.  This will help, because budgets are usually created because the stress of unmonitored spending is breaking you down.  A well-created realistic budget can be a major component of your stress management program.

Picture your life when you have no fear of stress, when people around you admire your cool under pressure, and when your worry over anxiety turns to expectations about opportunities. STRESS JUDO: Black Belt stress management for 3 FREE and EXCLUSIVE reports on how your current stress management system is probably harming you.
Filed under: stress management, Health Related Issues From Work Related Stress, worry, Stress Management Strategies, Stress Management Techniques, Executive Leadership Coaching, Family Money Management, Family Budgeting, Personal Budget Planner      Leave a comment

2010-09-12
In these economic times, practically no one has the luxury anymore of joking "I can't be broke - I still have checks left!"  Managing your money is a necessity. Unfortunately, all of the information out about how to set up a budget almost always ignores the most important point: the purpose of the budget.  Family budgeting has a purpose.  That is either to stop or redirect spending, or to force savings.  If your budget is not doing one of these two things, your budget isn't really doing anything except increasing your stress.  And no stress management system can fight against that.

  1. Stopping or redirecting spending.  Too many families know that their spending is out of control.  But they have no idea how they are spending their money. Consequently, they have no idea where to cut back.  So a budget that is focused on your spending must do the following:
    1. Track your spending for at least one month by specific categories. "Miscellaneous" is not a category.
    2. Prioritize the categories by need, not by want.
    3. Plan out your budget for each month based on the new priorities.
    4. Stick to the budget.
    5. Track your credit card spending and ATM withdrawals.  These are budget killers.

  1. Forced savings.  For many families, savings comes last.  They may be able to follow a budget, but not many budgets have a category for savings.   The savings can be general, like an emergency fund or just a cushion.  It can be for a specific purpose, like college for the kids or retirement or a vacation.  This article is not on financial planning, so we cannot tell you the best method of savings and investing.  But a budget that is focused on savings has money going into the savings category first.  This type of budget also requires prioritizing the cashflow, but it puts the savings category as the top priority.  It also may have some more flexibility, however.  If the savings method chosen is aggressively growing, then you may have some months where the savings accounts don't require so much input.

Setting up a personal financial budget in this manner can also reduce some of the worry and stress on the family.  If your family is constantly arguing over money or fighting over one or both spouse's long hours at work or missing out on activities with the children because of money considerations, then strictly following a budget may relieve some of this.  An overall stress management system should include emphasis on managing finances.

Failing to control your family finances will only lead to more of the same pain.  Setting up a budget is a start.  But if the budget is unfocused, then you will be fighting yourself each month to follow it.  Worse would be a budget where no one knows the priorities or not everyone had input into deciding the priorities.  The problem here is that, without each family member being invested in the prioritization of the budget, they are far more likely to fall to temptation to spend outside the budget.

 
Family budgeting may seem like one of those chores that no one wants to do.  People are reluctant to discuss money with their families, and sometimes even their spouse.  But it can be used to teach children how to manage money.  And it is fascinating, and brings people closer together, to hear each person's priorities and thereby their goals and dreams.  Take some time and create your family budget right.  And you just may be creating your family right as a result.

Picture your life when you have no fear of stress, when people around you admire your cool under pressure, and when your worry over anxiety turns to expectations about opportunities. STRESS JUDO: Black Belt stress management for 3 FREE and EXCLUSIVE reports on how your current stress management system is probably harming you.
Filed under: stress management, anxiety relief, health effects of stress, anxiety attacks, Health Related Issues From Work Related Stress, worry, I worry too much, Stress Management Strategies, Stress Management Techniques, Family Money Management, Family Budgeting      Leave a comment

2010-09-12
A major and consistent source of stress for most people is money.  Well, actually the stress is caused by spending more money than they bring in or have.  The answer to this is simple: spend less.  Yeah, and the answer to losing weight is spend more calories than you eat.  So let's come up with a plan for realistic family money management and hopefully get rid of some of that stress with a realistic budget.

1. Do NOT make the traditional "money in, money out" budget.  This may help you understand the problem, and show you where you are spending money that you shouldn't.  But the problem is that defining the budget this way is what governments do, and you know how hard it is for THEM to cut anything out.

2. Put your income at the top of a sheet.  This is all regular income.  Don't put bonuses.  Do include your spouse's income and child support - if it is reliable.

3. List the required deductions.  Tax withholdings, social security, medicare.  Do not include voluntary contributions to retirement plans.

4. Subtract from income.  This is your income.  This is your cap. This is the number that cannot be exceeded.

5. List fixed expenses. Rent or mortgage, loan payments, credit card minimum payments, utilities (average), and any other kind of payment you have committed to in writing (i.e., can be sued over).  Include any court-ordered child support or alimony you or your spouse is ordered to pay

6. Subtract again.  If you are below zero, call a financial planner or a bankruptcy attorney.

7. The figure you have now is your disposable income.

8. Put 10% into an emergency fund.

9. Put the budget to the side.  Have a hard talk with your family about the priorities of your discretionary spending.  Are dance lessons for the kids higher priority than getting a new car?  Do you need to eat out for lunch every day?  Which is more important: that boob job or saving for a second honeymoon?  There are no answers to these questions.  Except for the answers your family comes up with.  And then those are the only answers.

10. Put these priorities next to the discretionary income amount, and plan it out.  Know that the items at the bottom of the list probably can't be paid for right now.  That's why they are at the bottom of the list.

So there's your budget.  Follow it each month.  Look at your spending and see if you spending discretionary money on the bottom-of-the-list items.  Spend money on the top-of-the-list list items first.
See, doing it the other way - listing your spending first and trying to cut individual items out- makes the spender defensive.  "Of course I need to eat lunch out everyday.  It's a meeting, it's stress relief, it's my one little source of pleasure. And why should I cut that when you get to keep your expensive gym membership?"  And here comes the fight...

This budget is highly likely to succeed because everyone has contributed and everyone has accepted the priority decisions first.  Once the priorities are listed, the money is spent on them from top to bottom.  When you run out of money, you run out of spending.

Family money management is one of the biggest sources of stress.  Meditating, deep breathing, and exercise may calm your physical reactions to stress.  But they won't relieve the source of the stress.

To learn how to attack stress and turn stressful situations into opportunities (like this article has turned the stress of financial pressures into the opportunity to realign your family's values), see STRESS JUDO Black Belt stress management training.
Filed under: stress management, anxiety relief, weight loss, fitness solutions, health effects of stress, anxiety attacks, Health Related Issues From Work Related Stress, worry, I worry too much, Stress Management Strategies, Stress Management Techniques, Executive Leadership Coaching, Family Money Management      Leave a comment

 
 
Author
RICK CARTER - Christian, father, husband, martial arts student, litigator.  STRESS JUDO developed to fight stress in fighting arena and courtroom. You too can be as cool and calm as every movie lawyer or action hero you've ever seen.  Be envied by everyone who cracks under pressure. You won't.

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