If you are having trouble sleeping because you're worrying about money, don't feel as if you are alone in the dark.
Nearly 80 percent of Americans are lying awake at night trying to figure out how to pay their car loans, make the due date on credit cards or keep their homes out of foreclosure. That number is up 16 percent over the December findings, according to a poll of more than 1,400 consumers this month by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Some other results from the poll:
What's up with this?
Other reports indicate people still are spending as if they have money to burn. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Americans spend $1.22 for every dollar they earn.
"Most of the populace is addicted to consumption," said Scott Spiker, chief executive of First Command Financial Serv-ices, a financial consulting firm in Fort Worth, Texas. "The more and more we spend, the worse it gets. It takes a deliberate effort to break the cycle."
Spiker suggests that people use tax refunds and stimulus rebate checks as a first step toward changing poor spending habits.
Instead of immediately spending that money, he suggests thinking about long-term financial goals. Then working with a professional financial adviser to formalize those plans.
The idea is that it's harder to splurge on an all-day spa trip when you have made firm plans to save for your child's college education or your early retirement.
Get reliable advice
You've probably heard this advice before and wondered how to get started. The best way is to get some help.
North Carolina Saves, a coalition that helps residents of that state learn to save, suggests finding ways to get motivation and support from other savers and seeking out a financial coach.
The group says no amount is too small to start saving.
Bankrate, lists online banks that offer higher interest rates than traditional banks.
If you save $50 a month from the time your child is born until he or she turns 17, you can earn about $15,000.
Bankrate also lists the latest saving rates and compares the different savings accounts offered by banks.
Another helpful resource is the American Bankers Association Education Foundation. This is a nonprofit subsidiary of the bankers association that provides financial literacy programs.
If you work with a financial adviser, be sure to do your homework. Many will offer a free first-time consultation. This gives you the opportunity to shop around for a financial planner with whom you are comfortable working.