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Calm, restful sleep is the foundation of happiness.

But many of us aren't getting a good night, and the reason for it is entirely preventable.

Money worries are keeping us awake.

Insurer Cigna has been surveying people about their financial circumstances, and it has found that 35 per cent of people in the 40-49 year age bracket are literally losing sleep over their finances. That rises to 37 per cent of folk aged 50-59.

Money worries are the top barrier to getting a decent night's sleep, Cigna found.

I sympathise. I suffer from sleep apnoea. The last time I felt well-rested was a decade ago. I know how a lack of sleep can feed into your worry feedback loop.

It works like this: You have a worry, so you don't sleep as well, so you have more time lying in the dark to think about your worry, which consequently assumes gargantuan proportions.

There seem to be three core groups of money worriers.

  1. Those who worry they are financially insecure: People fear their households aren't robust enough to suffer the slings and arrows of misfortune.
  2. Those who worry because of their current financial situation: People with too much debt, or higher, or too close to their incomings and are flirting with immediate disaster.
  3. The long-term worriers, fine for the moment, but believing they won't have saved enough by the time they retire.

It is easy to let money worries run wild. But almost any financial worry can be reduced over time.

The smart thing to do is channel worry into planning and action.

That converts worry into energy and improvement.

Even relatively small changes can make a huge difference.

Say you have a nagging $5000 credit card debt that is helping keep you poor.

Go onto the Sorted get out of debt calculator, and work out how to kill it.

Sure, at $100 a month, it'll take a dispiriting 94 months to clear.

So repay it at $200 a month, and it'll be gone in 32. Or go harder at $240 a month and kill it in 26.

If you are feeling like the mortgage is going nowhere, attack it.

Say you have $300,000 owing, and are repaying at $1000 a fortnight, which will take you 20-odd years, add another $30 a week to repayments.

Result, the mortgage will be gone in 18 years, and you'll pay $24,500 less interest. Let that settle, and then have another crack at it the following year, or the year after that.

Just $10 extra saved a week over ten years (assuming a real return of 4 per cent) equals $5250 greater saved wealth. $20 equals $10,500, $30 equals $15,750.

Frugality makes you richer, and knowing how to live on less is an asset to you.

I find I worry less when I am taking action. Worries fester, if I don't.

Golden Rules

1. Convert worry into action

2. Target your biggest worry first

3. Seek quick solutions

Have you ever taken a proactive approach to your money worries?

Written by Rob Stock. First appeared on Stuff.co.nz. 

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