Today s financial climate continues to change, and the uncertainty can take a toll. Stress is a natural component in all of our lives, but many people are experiencing a cumulative effect from job loss, rising fuel and food costs, even looking ahead to the expenses of the holidays. Throw in a broken washing machine or unexpected illness and you can hit overload. Suzanne Klenk from WSECU joined Margaret to share the keys to managing financial stress.

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There are a few key components to managing financial stress, and stress in general, beginning with communication.

SUZANNE:Communication is key.Talking about money and our finances is difficult, but it is truly the key to letting go, getting help and finding your way through the storm.

Communication is good...but really, whom do you talk to?

SUZANNE:You begin with YOU!You need to decide for yourself where you want to be and what you are willing to do to get there.Decide and then move forward.

The next is your spouse, that seems like a given...shouldn t it be?

SUZANNE:Yes, but we all know that stress over money is one of the leading causes of divorce in this country, so a little bit of communication can not only save on your stress, but your relationship as well.Talk with your partner about goals and find some common ground.This is not the easiest conversation and will have to happen often...foreverJ

Kids and Extended Family are next.What does that conversation look like?

SUZANNE:Kids, let them know where you are financially.Make them problem solvers and stakeholders in the process.You will find that they actually have some good ideas and are more apt to get on board with frugal spending when they think they have a voice.Extended family is not too in depth, just a simple statement that your family is choosing to make different decisions with regard to your finances.Christmas may look a little different this year.We are not going to love you with our money any longer.Your time and energy are much more value than anything you could every purchase for them anyway.

And you round it out with communication with your credit union and your creditors.That might be intimidating...

SUZANNE:It can be, but it is imperative for your own wellbeing.GET HELP!!!!Talk with your CREDIT UNION, and find out what they can offer you in the way of services that will Better Serve You, without costing you any money.Also, contact your creditors, set guidelines for communication.Set guidelines for times they can call with assurance that you will answer, i.e. not during dinner or after a certain time in the evening....never at work.Make it a point to initiate contact once per month in writing explaining where you and the payment agreement as you understand it.

Finally, get your spending on paper.How does that help?

SUZANNE:Tracking your spending allows you to make good choices about where your money goes.Without a plan, your money may not be working as well for you as it should.Try keeping track of everything you spend for a full two weeks.EVERYTHING!This will give you a good idea of where your impulse or miscellaneous spending is and how to redirect those funds to higher priorities.Knowledge is Power and once your know better you can do better.

Stress is always with us, but if we manage it well, we can weather these financial times with our families and our sanity intact.And again...utilize your credit union professionals to assist you on this journey.Together, we are better and will get to the other side stronger and faster.

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