6 Tips for Managing Financial Stress

Mitigating financial stress is a marriage of taking action and changing your perspective. What are the necessary steps to take to help overcome challenges? Can you redirect your thoughts to correct negative thinking? You can’t control your financial situation 100%, but you can control your emotional reactions and how you can channel your anxiety or fears into finding solutions.

We don’t need statistics to confirm what we already know — the majority of Americans are stressed about their finances. Living paycheck to paycheck, relying on unemployment checks, mounting debt and struggling to build a strong savings account can cause stress levels to skyrocket. Family expenses and financial discord with a partner also trigger those money-related anxieties. For many of us, our financial situation can feel dark and dismal, but it’s not hopeless.

Creating and abiding by a budget is first and foremost. This forces you to look at your accounts and face your current situation, so you can start planning your spending, instead of worrying. A budget app is the best tool for keeping your finances on track. Tracking your spending and saving puts you in more control of your money, which can help alleviate the stress. A budget is an essential first step, but it may need some backup. Check out these additional stressbusters that can help you feel more at peace with your finances.

Narrow Down Your Goals

It’s important to have goals: build up 3–6 months of savings, pay off a credit card, increase student loan payments, or save for a house. Achieving these goals can improve your financial wellness and make your dreams come true, like becoming a homeowner! Setting too many goals, however, can become overwhelming, especially if your money is stretched thin. Do your goals feel unmanageable? Try prioritizing one or two, and focus on progressing and succeeding in those areas before setting another.

Focus on Your Own Journey

An old colleague announced they got a promotion, which doubled their income, while you got laid off. A friend from college posted a brand-new adventure vehicle that they purchased, when you’re behind the wheel of a 2010 clunker. Envy and feeling inferior are the enemies of contentment. We measure ourselves against others to gauge where we stand in wealth and success — and the pressure to keep up is stressful, even depressing. But making the conscious decision to free yourself from the comparison trap can help free you from the distress.

Celebrate the Wins

Let’s be real. There’s always something more that money can buy and provide for us. Maybe you wish you could travel more or add more to your retirement. It’s exhausting to feel like you never have enough money for this or that, or you can never catch up. Try focusing on the positives, such as your financial strengths and accomplishments, big or small. Did you put your entire bonus toward a savings goal? Win. Did you decide to pass on a fancy latte? Win! Any time financial dread creeps in, congratulate yourself on the smart moves you’ve made.

Schedule Weekly Check-Ups

Stress can paralyze you. It’s fear that prevents you from looking at your bank accounts and statements. But you can’t improve your finances by turning a blind eye to your spending, payments, debt and other obligations. To help you build a better relationship with your money, put a reoccurring meeting on your calendar. This is allotted time for you to review your budget and tackle bigger tasks, like researching options for student loan refinancing or taking out a loan. Money Crashers calls this turning unknowns into knowns by reserving time for improving your financial literacy through education.1

Listen to Money Podcasts

Education could look like meeting with an advisor or reading a Dave Ramsey book — except maybe you’re not ready for financial counseling yet, or you can’t carve out the time to read. Sound familiar? Give podcasts a chance! Podcasts are great tools for learning about finances and engaging in money conversations, even while multitasking. Tune into So Money as you cook dinner or play Bad with Money during your workout. With a quick Google search, you can find lists of podcast recommendations that can conveniently boost your knowledge.

Don’t Equate Your Income to Your Self-Worth

Our income determines how much money we can live off, but it can also feel like it’s a reflection of our self-worth or level of success. Investing your energy into judging your salary and envisioning what life would be like with more money is an emotional burden. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with motivating yourself to increase your earnings. It just doesn’t have to define who you are. First, keep budgeting to map out the ins and outs of your money. Second, identify what you love about your job — which could be rewarding work, a boss you respect, amazing co-workers, telecommuting, good benefits or work-life balance!

The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.

1https://www.moneycrashers.com/financial-anxiety-stressed-about-money/