Household finances can be complex, confusing and stressful. How can we keep ourselves from feeling overwhelmed when money challenges arise?

Jessica Kirwin, a financial planner with Allison Spielman Advisors in Bellevue, advises tamping down that overwhelmed feeling by finding out how you’re spending money.

She often refers people to the online budget sites YNAB ( and Often the mere act of tracking spending takes away some of the mystery. It also forces us to make conscious decisions about what we’re spending money on — and if we’re aware, we can always choose against buying something.

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Talking with a professional can make a financial challenge feel more manageable, says Allison Spielman colleague Thom Allison.

“A lot of times when talking about them, you find that the monster under the bed isn’t as big as you thought it was,” he said.