Money concerns can be overwhelming to the point that they affect other aspects of your life, including your mental and physical well-being.
However, there are various strategies you can use to help you better manage and alleviate this stress while also staying on top of your finances.
What is financial stress?
Financial stress is a state of worry, anxiety, or emotional tension related to money, debt, and upcoming or current expenses. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as low income, job loss, unexpected expenses, and high debt. And as with other stressors, it can take its toll on your health. According to the American Psychological Association, prolonged periods of stress can lead to increases in anxiety, depression, blood pressure, sleep-related issues, headaches, and muscle pain. It’s important to your overall well-being that you do what you can to lessen your financial stress, proactively taking control of your finances and working toward a healthier future.
How to combat financial stress
No one’s stress is the same, so what you do to combat it will depend on your current situation. The first step is identifying the source of your money stress, which will allow you to better address the root of the issue. To help you work toward living a healthier life, here are a few ideas on how to do so.
Get organized with a budget
Organization is key to managing financial stress. By tracking your income and expenses, you can better determine where your money is going each month. One way to do this is by creating and following a budget. This involves developing a plan for how you’re going to spend your money, which can allow you to stay on track with your financial goals and, in turn, reduce your stress levels. There are several different budgeting methods, so find one that works for you and stick to it. It’s only once you have a clear understanding of your current financial situation that you can start to make changes to reduce your spending and save more money where possible.
Pay down debt
Debt can be a significant source of financial stress, and it’ not one that always feels easy to get on top of. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Start by listing all your debts, including credit card balances, student loans, and mortgages, and find a debt repayment method that suits you. For instance, the snowball method allows you to prioritize certain debts based on their total amounts, while the avalanche method targets those with the highest interest rates. By establishing a strategy, you can proactively work to regain control of your finances.
Save for emergencies
Unexpected expenses can strike at any time, causing significant stress if you’re unprepared. An emergency fund acts as a safety net, providing a buffer for when these instances do arise. Ideally, you should have enough savings to cover anywhere from three to six months’ worth of living expenses. If you don’t currently have an emergency fund, start small by setting aside a portion of your income each month and gradually build up your savings to cover your expenses. This can give you more financial security and help you better handle challenges in the future.
Manage your overall stress levels
Stress can compound, meaning that the more stressed you are in other areas of your life, the greater your financial stress will be. This makes it vital to prioritize your self-care and practice stress management techniques. Regularly engage in activities that help you relax and unwind, such as exercise, meditation, or other fun hobbies, and take care of your health by eating well, getting enough sleep, and seeking emotional support from loved ones.
Get help if you need it
If you’re struggling to manage your finances on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Consult a financial planner or advisor who can offer guidance tailored to your specific situation. They’ll be able to assist you in creating a long-term financial plan and suggest strategies to help you better manage your debts or unexpected expenses. This professional support can provide more clarity and give you greater peace of mind.
Remember, managing financial stress is a journey that requires patience and perseverance. Be kind to yourself, seek help when needed, and stay committed to your financial goals. With time, dedication, and the right strategies, you can overcome financial stress and work to manage it in the future.
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