10 Ways to Un-Stress About Money
Let’s face it: Money can be stressful, especially when you’re dealing with high-interest credit card debt, cash flow issues, or an unexpected financial emergency. Unfortunately, there are no quick-fix solutions for most money woes (remember, payday loans and the like are NEVER good options!) – But that doesn’t mean that the situation is hopeless.
One key to successfully dealing with financial issues? Keep your stress down. When your stress levels get out of control, it gets even more difficult to think clearly and make rational, sensible, long-term choices. Here are a few tips and tactics for dealing with money-related stress:
- Identify the source of the problem. Are you stressed because you’ve got too much debt? Are you house-poor? Are you reeling from a large, unexpected expense such as major home or car repairs, medical bills, or the loss of a source of income? The more you understand about the source of your financial woes, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with the accompanying stress.
- Figure out what you can change. The good news is that, depending on the source of your stress, you may be able to take steps to avoid the same stress in the future. For example, if you’re stressed because an unexpected financial emergency wiped out your savings or maxed out your credit card, make it a priority to start an emergency fund. If your stress stems from overspending, you might want to take a few steps to make spending more difficult: unsubscribe yourself from retailer emails, make shopping lists (and stick to them), and leave your credit cards home when you go out.
- Create or revise your budget. If you don’t have a budget, you should sit down and create one as soon as possible. A good budget will help you identify any money leaks or areas where you are overspending (or underestimating your spending).
- Seek professional help. A financial advisor or debt counselor can help you feel more in control of your finances and help you come up with a plan of attack for dealing with the source of your financial stress. You may want to consider talking to a licensed counselor or therapist, who can help you develop strategies for coping with stressful situations.
- Focus on the positive things. Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong with your finances, try to focus on what you’re doing right – whether that’s learning more about personal finance, committing to a budget, cutting back on spending, or taking steps to reduce your debt.
- Find a stress reliever. What makes you feel happy and relaxed? Do you enjoy listening to music, reading, playing games, or watching movies? Do you feel happy and energized after running, doing yoga, or walking your dog? Make a point to spend at least 30 minutes a day doing something that helps you unwind.
- Set realistic goals. Goal-setting can be incredibly empowering, especially when it comes to finance. But make sure you don’t go overboard: If you’ve got $10,000 in credit card debt, it may not be realistic to pay it all off in six months or a year. If you’re trying to create a budget, don’t expect perfection the first time around: most budgets require an adjustment or two. If you’re building an emergency fund, don’t aim for six months of living expenses right off the bat – aim for, say, $200 or $300 first.
- Don’t let shame or guilt hold you back. Shame and guilt aren’t productive emotions, so don’t let them interfere with your efforts to get your finances back on track. Try to look at things practically and objectively: First, identify your situation and/or the source of your money stress. Then, think about the things you can do to address those problems. And don’t let your emotions keep you from talking to people who can help or support you.
- Ignore financial frenemies. Maybe you have a coworker whose Facebook feed is filled with gourmet dinners, expensive vacations, and details of her latest shopping spree. Or neighbors who just finished up an extensive (and expensive!) kitchen remodel, complete with custom cabinets, granite countertops, and professional-grade appliances. Or an ultra-competitive brother-in-law who is always trying to one-up you with his latest gadgets. Don’t compare your own financial situation to others’. It doesn’t do any good, and you don’t know the whole story – that coworker might be drowning in debt, and that in-law might be raiding the emergency fund to finance his flashy purchases.
- Find a side hustle. Would a little extra cash would help your situation? You may want to explore your options for secondary income sources. You can take a part-time job, sell your unwanted stuff on eBay, take paid Internet surveys, become an Uber driver, or cash in on a specialized skill like baking, photography, or home repair.
And remember, if you’re feeling stressed about money or need some advice about debt or credit, you can always reach out to Debt Guru. Contact the DebtGuru team today for a free credit counseling consultation.