Do you often worry about money? If so, then you’re not alone.
According to the American Psychological Association, at least 72 percent of American’s report feeling stressed about their finances. This is due to a variety of factors such as mounting debt, loss of employment, not being able to make ends meet, and uncertainty about the future.
Not only are feelings of stress not good for your mental state, but they can lead to physical ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. It can also weaken your immune system in ways that will make you more vulnerable to viral illnesses like colds or the flu.
If this sounds like you, then please don’t waste another day in pain. Here are 11 ways you can stop stressing over money and get your finances back on track.
1. Stop Comparing Yourself Against Everyone Else
One of the biggest contributors to our worries about money is when we feel like we’re somehow falling behind everyone else. You might have friends or family that are moving into a bigger house or getting promoted at work while your financial situation is getting worse.
Remember that when you try to “keep up with Jones’s”, it’s always a loser’s game. Don’t measure yourself against what others are doing. You need to do what’s best for you and your unique situation.
2. What is the Real Problem?
Usually when someone is struggling financially, it’s a sign that there are much deeper problems at hand. This could be due to other issues such as unhappiness, insecurity, or even boredom.
If you’re worried often about your finances, take a moment to reflect on what the root cause of the problem might actually be. Would having more money really be the solution, or do you need to work on something internally within yourself first?
3. Stop Blaming Everyone Else
When there are problems with money, it’s easy to point the finger at your job, parents, friends, or even your spouse. But let’s be honest – they’re not the ones to blame for why things are the way they are.
If you want to make a serious change, then you have to take responsibility for your finances. Though it can feel like a defeat for some people to admit you were wrong, it’s also the first step towards gaining control over the situation.
4. Let the Past Be the Past
So you’ve made some mistakes with money up to this point. I’ve got news for you: No one is perfect!
Don’t beat yourself up over what’s happened in the past. As long as you can commit to handling your finances differently from now on, then you can forgive yourself and move on from the person you used to be.
5. Get It Off Your Chest
One of the best ways to get clarity on any problem you’re having (money or otherwise) is to talk it out with another person. Push aside your fear of embarrassment and have an honest conversation with a trusted friend or confidant.
The great thing about talking it out is the feeling of release. Once you say something out loud, it can feel like a confession; as if a ton of bricks has been lifted off of you. Plus, other people will often give you insight or advice that may turn out to be helpful.
6. Determine Your Goals
Once you have a better understanding of why you’re really worried about money, what do you want to do to change it?
- Get out of debt
- Save up for a down payment
- Improve your credit score
- Save more for retirement
Write down your ideas as they come to you and put them in order of priority.
7. Get Financially Organized
Before you can make a plan for your goal, you need to know what you’re working with (or against). That means having a better understanding of the “hard” numbers such as your income, expenses, etc.
To do this, lay out your financial documents and compile them into a single summary or report. This will help you to better focus on how much you can contribute to your financial goal.
8. Make a Plan Using SMART Goals
Now that you know what kind of hard numbers you’re working with, it’s time to make an action plan for how you will get to where you want to be. To do this, let’s take your top goals from Step 6 and turn them into what’s called SMART goals.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. For example, if you’d like to pay off your $10,000 student loan, the SMART goal version of this might be: I will pay off $10,000 of student loan debt in the next 2 years by sending in an extra $300 on the principal every month.
9. Use Your Available Resources
Achieving your SMART goals isn’t something you have to do on your own. There are lots of tools at your disposal that can help you along the way. Here are a few good ones to consider:
- Tracking your finances using a budgeting app like Buxfer
- Setting your bills to auto-pay
- Enrolling in overdraft protection for your bank account
- Utilizing websites for financial knowledge and calculators
If you want some one-on-one support, you can even reach out to a nonprofit credit counseling agency for help. Try the NFCC to connect with a counselor for free.
10. Protect Your Future
One of the best ways to put your financial nerves to rest is to build a layer of protection around yourself and your family. A good place to start is with an emergency fund. Focus on putting 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses. You can even make this one of your first SMART goals!
Another area you may want to review is your insurance policies. Having adequate amounts of coverage for things like health, auto, home, and even your life can ultimately save your household thousands of dollars in the long run.
11. Focus on What You Actually Can Control
It’s important to understand that you can’t control everything in life. The sooner you realize that certain things are out of your hands, the less stressed you’ll feel.
Instead, put your efforts into the things you actually can influence or improve. These would be efforts such as staying devoted to your goals, avoiding lifestyle creep, and saving towards the future. Don’t forget that you also always have the ability to control your own attitude towards money.
Image credit: Pexels