If you find that you’re worrying about your financial well-being, you are definitely not alone. Studies show that money is among the top causes of stress in adults. Financial stress can stop even the most productive people in their tracks, causing sleepless nights, avoidance of debt and denial. While it's often best to talk to your financial professional about what's on your mind, here are a few general tips to start managing your stress on your own.
Tip #1: Make a List
Sometimes the most effective techniques are the simplest. When you’re looking to overcome your financial stress, begin by putting your to-do list in writing. You will find that creating a clear list of what lies ahead can help it feel more tangible and doable. It also alleviates the “what did I forget” stress that so many of us suffer from. You’ll know that you have it all written down, and you can rest easy. With a to-do list in front of you, there’s no need to bear the burden of remembering everything in your head. It makes sense to start with the easiest tasks and slowly work through your list, checking things off one by one. Starting with a list of tasks can help you more effectively build a plan of action.
Tip #2: Talk it Out
While working with a financial advisor is recommended, it can still help to open up to a family member or trusted friend in the meantime. Keeping everything bottled up and to yourself will only serve to escalate your anxiety. If you’re able to, talk it out with someone you trust and be honest. You might find that they are feeling similarly about something in their life. Discussing your problems with someone can ease the burden significantly. Your friend or family member may even have some advice to offer or a financial advisor to recommend.
Tip #3: Look at Your Spending
Burying your head in the sand to avoid the situation may be tempting, but putting your financial obligations off will only make them worse. While some financial issues are definitely more complicated than others, taking stock of your current situation can help build a better understanding of where you are today and what needs to happen to get you to the future you desire. This often starts with taking a hard look at and adjusting your habits, both spending and saving. When it comes to addressing your current spending habits, there are a few things you can do right away:
- Make a list of every income source you currently have
- Determine your debts (student loans, car payments, credit card debt, etc.)
- Keep track of all your spending (manually using an app on your phone or a computer program)
- Look to identify potential spending patterns or triggers (when you’re battling stress, right after payday, etc.)
- Determine what changes you’re comfortable making to spend less and save more
- Avoid impulse spending
Tip #4: Balance Your Budget
Creating and tracking a monthly budget is a great way to get in the habit of healthier spending - and healthier spending habits equate to less financial stress.
To get started on creating your monthly budget, start by:
- Listing out recurring expenses such as gas, groceries, utilities, etc.
- Prioritize contributing to your emergency fund each month, pay yourself first
- Set up automatic payments to avoid late fees or interest, those are a big waste of money
- Determine where you may be able to cut down on spending (entertainment, clothes, etc.)
Getting your finances in order is no easy feat and it’s sometimes scary to get started. Identifying your main stressors and establishing a plan to address them can make a big difference in how you and your family feel about your finances. If you’re feeling lost, confused or overwhelmed, don’t forget to reach out to a trusted financial professional who can help make sense of your current financial situation.