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If money is keeping you awake at night, these 5 small financial moves can ease the tension

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Nearly everyone is anxious about money.

Almost half the respondents in a survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education said they were worried about paying their monthly bills.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, money woes were the No. 1 reason more than half of U.S. adults couldn't sleep at night.

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"The general uncertainty and job and business loss are driving financial stress," said Elizabeth Enright Phillips, a financial and minimalist coach, who points out that the average household came into the current situation already carrying debt.

Phillips says her doctor mentioned that most of his patients' physical ailments were directly related to money anxiety before Covid-19 set in. "The correlation between financial stress and physical ailment is so strong," she said.

If money has you tossing and turning, try these easy, intentional moves to get control.

1. A step at a time

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Avoidance is a natural reaction to the stress and shame of financial difficulty, says Kelsa Dickey, a financial coach and founder of Fiscal Fitness, a financial coaching site.

But running away from the reality of your finances is just going to make everything worse.

Instead, pick one easy thing to do every day, Dickey says. Pay a bill, look at bank balances, communicate with one of your creditors. If you feel more driven or inspired, do more.

"Try not to go down the rabbit hole of assuming there is nothing you can do to make extra cash," Dickey said.

2. Practice self-care

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Financial healing and self-care are becoming more widespread, Phillips says. They are ways of ascribing intention to your financial actions based on a healthy view of self-worth.

Here's how five minutes a day can bring some calm.

Really get to know your financial accounts.

"Log into bank accounts and credit cards, and simply look at the balance ledger and the transactions," Phillips said. "Reading the numbers, getting familiar with all the different functions of the app or website is a small but powerful step in financial self-care."

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Create a solid, daily routine, Phillips says. First thing each morning, look at your finances. Don't go more than five minutes. You don't want it to become a burdensome commitment.

"Listen to music you like and keep a financial journal to chronicle goals, desires and feelings," Phillips said. "Chart ideas for new avenues of income."

3. Write it down

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For a simple activity, tracking expenses is surprisingly powerful.

Whether you use a Google doc, a spreadsheet program or just a plain piece of paper, physically writing down your own spending creates a mental financial map in your brain, Phillips says.

Tracking creates accountability and can spark better spending decisions when you know you'll have to enter it into your ledger.

4. It's a date

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It can be overwhelming to compare your fixed and recurring expenses with your lower or non-existent income.

Instead of looking at just the actual amounts of monthly bills, consider the timing of when they need to be paid, says Dickey.

Once you've made a list of recurring monthly expenses, Dickey recommends organizing them by due date. "See what's coming up in the next week so you can plan," she said. "When everything seems chaotic and you can't plan a month out, plan for [just] the upcoming week." 

5. Buff your budget

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An old tactic will help you get through the new reality.

"People's budgets aren't anything like they looked like a month ago," Dickey said.

Nearly everyone has items they are no longer paying for, from commuting and takeout lunches to restaurant meals.

Make a list of the things you are now saving money on and the things you could eliminate naturally, such as subscriptions you aren't using. That money goes toward paying down debt or into savings.

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