Financial News, Tips and Resources from our partners at BALANCE

Three ways to cope when financial stress affects you at work

If your work has ever suffered as a result of financial stress at home, you’re not alone.

According to one survey, 37 percent of employees reported that personal finance issues had been a distraction while on the job at least once in their careers. So how do you perform at your professional best and successfully navigate financial challenges at the same time? Check out these three tips:

1. Review your financial situation
First of all, try to remember that you are in charge of your finances. If an issue related to employment is the cause of your stress, focus on the positive steps you can take to improve your situation.

For example, if you’re not making enough money, consider looking for a higher-paying job, or find out if you’re eligible for a raise at your current company. If neither of these options are realistic, start a side hustle. Whether it’s driving for a ride-share company, or turning a particular skill into a source of part-time income (e.g., graphic design), you may have more options than you realize.

2. Prioritize projects at the office
Often, you can de-stress your life by creating structure. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work as a result of your finances, make a simple list of projects in order of importance. This is especially useful if you juggle multiple responsibilities and tight deadlines. Creating a list of priorities can put things in perspective and re-focus your efforts on the job.

3. Talk to a financial coach
If overcoming financial hardship on your own seems impossible, you can always reach out to a Certified Financial Coach. A trained professional can show you how to manage your debt, organize your finances or simply create a budget that works. The newfound financial confidence can reduce stress, and improve productivity at work.

Admitting you need help with your finances is hard, but if your work suffers as a result of trying to resolve the problem on your own, consulting a professional may be worth it.

 

How to stop medical debt from crippling your credit

For many consumers, medical debt is particularly challenging because it’s unavoidable. Your health may depend on a certain procedure or medication, despite the sky-high costs that you can’t afford.

Of course, if you avoid paying the bill, you only make the situation worse. Your medical provider will likely turn an overdue account over to a collections agency, which can lower your credit score—and a damaged credit score means you’ll have to pay more in interest for credit cards and loans.

Before you let your medical debt spiral out of control, here are some tactics to try:

Pay your bills on time
If you have medical debt, you’ll probably start receiving requests for payment over time, followed by reminders, and then final notices. Ignoring these letters is easy when you’re strapped for cash—but don’t.

After the procedure, make paying off your debt a financial priority. Think of it like ripping off a band-aid. It may sting in the short term but it’s less painful for you in the long run.

Double check your bill
Before you pay up, confirm that the hospital billed you for the correct services. Medical billing can be complex, creating more room for an honest mistake. Contact your insurance company and double check that the procedure isn’t included in your coverage. You don’t want to risk a damaged credit score due to unnecessary debt.

Request a payment plan
After you receive your bill, assess whether or not you can pay it. If you review your finances and just can’t afford it right now, contact a billing manager in your doctor’s office as soon as possible. Reportedly, medical bills are negotiable. If you can’t haggle on cost, propose a repayment plan with your care provider. Assure them that you intend to pay—just with smaller amounts over time.

Four great ways to support a charity without donating money

For some people, the holidays can be a tricky time. Motivated by the seasonal spirit, you want to support your favorite charity, but lack the funds to make a meaningful impact. However, while monetary donations are always appreciated, many organizations need more than cash to make a difference.

So if you want to give to a good cause but don’t have room in your budget, here’s how you can contribute:

1. Volunteer your time
Many charities rely on volunteers as they’re understaffed. Whether it’s stocking a foodbank or assisting staff at an animal shelter, organizations often need additional people to lend a hand. If you can’t donate money, help out on site for as much time as your schedule allows.

2. Donate items you don’t need any more
Organizations such as The Goodwill and The Salvation Army provide used, discounted clothing for those who can’t afford to buy new. If you want to help people in need, just clean out your closet.

Bonus! You’ll receive the additional benefit of a decluttered home and, if you get an itemized receipt, a potential tax write-off for your donation.

3. Give blood
Giving blood is perhaps the most personal donation you can make. After all, you may literally save a life. If you’re interested in donating but aren’t sure where to start, the Red Cross is a great resource. Their website will show you all the upcoming blood drives in your area.

4. Get crafty
Have a knack for crafting? Children’s charities such as Project Linus accept hand-made blankets (provided you follow their specifications). The blankets are used to provide personalized comfort for kids in need. Likewise, certain animal shelters will also take blankets to line the cages of rescued dogs and cats.