Financial stress is a common struggle for many people. It can affect your mental and physical well-being and impact your overall quality of life. Money worries can come from different sources, including unexpected expenses, a sudden job loss or feeling unprepared for the future.
But how do you stop worrying about money? After all, it's one of those things that feels as though it's much easier said than done.
In this article, I'll show you how you can identify the root of the problem, take control of your finances and develop a plan to reduce financial stress for good. With the right strategies, you can conquer your money-related stress and enjoy a happier, healthier life.
Common symptoms of money anxiety
Before we dive into our stress-reducing money tips, it's important to understand how worrying about money can negatively impact your life. Can you relate to any of the following?
It can affect your physical health
Constantly worrying about your finances can lead to symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, fatigue and even digestive issues. Your body's response to stress may cause tense muscles and a weakened immune system, making you more susceptible to further illness.
It can affect your mental health
The impact of financial stress on a person's mental health can be significant and contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression and hopelessness. It can result in a vicious cycle, as your mental health struggles further exacerbate your money anxiety. If your financial struggles are affecting you this way, it's important to address both your financial situation and your mental health concerns to break the cycle.
Fear of the unknown
People who are anxious about money often spend a lot of time worrying about potential negative outcomes, such as losing a job, mounting expenses or sudden emergencies. While it's important to plan for the future, excessively dwelling on the unknown can be counterproductive and overwhelming.
It can cause relationship issues
Financial stress has been a leading cause of conflict in relationships for decades, and unresolved issues can lead to resentment and breakdowns in communication. If you're married or in a committed relationship, it's critical to have open, honest conversations about money to prevent these issues from damaging your relationship.
Spend a lot of time worrying
When you're preoccupied with money anxiety, you may waste valuable time on unproductive thoughts and activities. This constant worry can divert your attention from more important aspects of your life, including work, hobbies and relationships. Managing your financial stress effectively is crucial to regaining control over your time and improving your overall well-being.
How to stop worrying about money
It's clear that financial difficulties can lead to very negative outcomes in several areas. Thankfully, there are steps most people can take to regain control over their finances and reduce financial worries. Here are 10 ways you can take action.
1. Try to focus on the positive
As hard as it may seem, try to look for the positives in your financial situation. This isn't the time to beat yourself up. Recognize the progress you've made and the things you've accomplished so far. Doing so will help you feel grateful for what you have and motivate you to continue improving your financial health.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
This is a common struggle, especially in the age of social media, where people try to present a perfect image of their lives to the world. You see their fancy houses, cars, boats and luxury vacations. What you don't see are the monster mortgages and credit card bills. It's important to stop comparing yourself to others, as it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress. Remember that everyone's financial journey is different and focus on your own goals instead.
3. Start tracking your spending
If you're struggling to make ends meet, if you haven't already done so, your first step should be to track your spending. You need to find out where your money is going. By understanding your expenses, you can identify areas where you can cut back and save more. Obtain a copy of your bank account or credit card statements for the previous three months. You may be surprised to find out how much you're spending in certain areas.
4. Reduce your spending
Once you've got a handle on your spending habits, try to find ways to reduce unnecessary expenses, like dining out, subscriptions, clothing, entertainment, etc. While you might not like the feeling of giving up some luxuries, you'll feel better knowing that your cash flow is improving and you're saving money.
5. Create a budget
You need a plan to meet your financial goals. That's where a budget comes in. A budget is a plan for your money, an easy way to keep your finances on track. Creating a budget doesn't have to be extremely stressful or time-consuming. You can make your own monthly budget using a spreadsheet or the old-fashioned way, with paper and a pencil. Or you can use a budgeting app to automate the process.
6. Build an emergency fund
One of the best ways to reduce financial stress is to build up a short-term cash reserve, commonly known as an emergency fund. An emergency fund can help relieve some stress, as it prepares you for unexpected expenses. While you should aim to save enough to cover at least three to six months of living expenses, even $500 is better than nothing.
7. Start a side hustle to boost your income
While it's important to reduce spending to improve your financial situation, you can only cut so far. If you're still struggling, consider starting a side hustle to earn extra money. There are so many ways to make money on the side of your regular job. It could be freelancing, selling your stuff on Facebook Marketplace or providing a service to people in your community. The additional income will help you reach your financial goals faster.
8. Speak with a financial advisor
Sometimes, we just need the advice of a professional. If you're struggling with your finances and continuing to worry about money, don't hesitate to consult a financial advisor or counsellor. They can provide guidance on money decisions and help you create a plan to reach your goals. They can be a voice of reason when you're struggling to separate your emotions from your financial decision-making.
9. Speak to a mental health professional
If worrying about money has become overwhelming, consider speaking with a mental health professional. They’ll help you develop coping strategies and address any underlying issues.
10. Talk to your spouse
Finally, if you have a spouse or partner, be open with them about your financial concerns, and work together on a plan. Open communication can alleviate stress and help you feel more secure financially.
Taking a positive approach can help you handle financial stress and set achievable savings goals. You're not alone on this path; many people face similar concerns and have overcome them by adopting new habits and managing their finances effectively.
Don't forget to give yourself a break and recognize that financial challenges are part of life. Stay focused on things you can control, like spending and budgeting. The journey will be challenging, but with perseverance and the right mindset, you'll be well on your way to enjoying a financially stress-free life.
This article was written by Colin Graves from MapleMoney and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.