Financial stress and anxiety affect millions of people. No matter how much, or how little, money you make, you have probably felt financial stress at some point in your life. It doesn’t matter how well you think you’ve planned (or haven’t), things can happen that cause you stress or anxiety.
Chances are you’ve had to deal with one of these situations:
- Your income dropped and now you can’t pay your bills.
- There was an unexpected expense that drained your savings.
- The debts keep building up and you can’t pay them down.
- You have had a medical issue and insurance did not cover it.
If you’ve dealt with one or all of these scenarios, you’re not alone. Thousands of Americans are in the same situation. They move from one stressful financial situation to another — or juggle many of them at the same time.
The reasons for financial stress differ for all of us, but the way to overcome it is the same.
1. Talk About It
The No. 1 mistake people make when they stress about anything is to avoid it. There is this belief that if you don’t talk about or address it, then it is not true. If you do this, though, the situation will get worse.
You need to look directly at the financial situation causing you stress. It can help to write it down, along with ideas that might make it better. If you are in a relationship, talk to your spouse or partner about it.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore it. It won’t go away on its own.
2. Review Your Budget
If you have a budget, refer to it to see what can be changed. Is there a spending category you can eliminate? Maybe you can reduce your spending until you address your financial situation.
If you do not have a budget, start there. Even if you are broke, you still need a budget. Your budget is a financial road map. It guides you to make the right spending choices and to see where your money goes.
Reviewing your budget helps identify what works and what doesn’t. You should check your budget at least once a month so you always know where you are going, and where you’ve been.
3. Make More Money
Your stress may mean it is time to change careers or jobs, or that you need to find ways to bring in more money. There are many ways you can work from home and make more money. You just have to find the right niche.
4. Comparison Shop
If you need to make a major purchase, don’t run down the street to the closest store to make your purchase. Research the item you want. Read reviews and check prices.
Once you know which item you want, visit your store to buy it. You might be able to price match to get the best deal or even negotiate the price, especially if you use cash.
5. Get Rid of Your Debt
Debt is one of the main reasons people have financial stress. Whether your debt is the result of overspending or life tossing obstacles your way it can be easy to get in over your head.
Taking steps to get out of debt can improve your financial stress. It will not be easy. I know this, because I’ve been in your shoes. However, if you can put together a plan and begin making progress toward your goals, you will find your financial stress is reduced, or possibly eliminated. (Remember, keeping your debt under control can also improve your credit standing, which can save you thousands over your life time. Find out where your credit stands by getting your two free credit scores right here on Credit.com.)
6. Seek Professional Help
If your financial situation is really bad, it may be time to seek professional help. You may want to consult a financial planner if you stress over saving for college or retirement.
Asking for help does not make you weak. It shows you are smart. If you needed surgery, you would not perform it on yourself. You would find a surgeon. The same is true with your finances.
7. Set Goals
Decide what you want from your finances. Make a vision board, or post an image of your goal where you will see it every day. When you can visualize your goals, and see them in front of you, they become real. They are no longer a thought in the back of your mind. Seeing your goals in front of you can keep you focused.
For example, when my husband and I were working on paying off our debt, I had a paper on the refrigerator with a total amount owed on it. As we made payments, I updated it. It was in front of my face every day. I could see how much we owed, but more than that, I was able to see our progress as I watched the balance drop.
No matter what causes you financial stress and anxiety, there are things you can do to overcome it. You need to first take ownership and then take the necessary steps forward.