Do you worry about money? Are you struggling to handle financial stress?
You’re not alone.
A recent survey by Varo Money revealed that 30% of respondents feel that they’re “constantly” stressed out by financial issues. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can provide peace of mind. Whether it’s a source of constant stress or just a persistent worry, financial pressure can take a serious toll on your emotional and physical health.
What’s causing your financial stress?
First, it’s important to recognize the real sources of your financial stress. You may spend a lot of time stressing over any or all of these issues. They could be:
- Student loan debt
- Consumer debt
- Medical expenses/bills
- Low or stagnant income
- Expenses exceeding your income
- Unexpected job loss
- Lack of an emergency fund
- Living paycheck to paycheck
- Falling behind on bills
Everyone’s situation is different. Focus in on the money issues that are troubling you the most and keeping you up at night.
Sometimes the issues are related, or one set of money troubles can lead to another. It can feel like a domino effect that takes over and keeps you feeling stuck in a cycle of worry about money.
Take a deep breath.
Now write down a list of what’s bothering you the most. From there, you’ll begin to confront them head-on. When you’re honest about what’s truly stressing you out, you’re ready to take the next step to solve the problem.
Actionable Ways to Handle Financial Stress Now
Taking real steps to gain control over your financial issues is the only way to reduce the worry about money that you’re experiencing. No matter what your specific money issues are, these steps will bring you relief:
1) Make a Budget
One of the easiest ways to take control of your finances right now is by making a budget. Your budget will give you a clear look at how much money is coming in and where it’s being spent.
Write down every expense you have each month. Look at your total income.
Is anything leftover? You have to know the actual numbers of what’s coming in and what’s going out in order to make positive changes.
Track your spending
When you create a budget, you can closely track your spending. Do this for at least a month to understand where you’re spending money and how much.
Look for opportunities to cut back and save more
After creating your budget and tracking where your money goes, you can look for opportunities to cut back spending. If you live paycheck to paycheck, it may seem difficult, if not impossible, to do.
However, some of your spending areas may really surprise you! For example, if you’re spending a hefty chunk on groceries or dining out each month, come up with a plan to scale it back. Start researching things like meal planning, how to make freezer meals, and how to save more on groceries.
Read More: Ways to Slash Your Grocery Bill
Try a spending freeze
When you’re worried about money, a spending freeze can help keep you from spending on things that you truly don’t need. A no spend challenge for a week, month, or even just a weekend is a great way to find frugal ways to have fun.
A no spend challenge can also reveal just how much you’re spending on stuff that you aren’t even conscious of. Maybe you drop $4 here on coffee, $10 there grabbing lunch at work. Those seemingly small spends add up fast!
2) Start Saving
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck and every cent you earn is already accounted for, saving might sound impossible.
Start saving now, even if it’s only $10 from every paycheck. Open up a savings account so that you can keep that money separate and start building it up.
Set up an emergency fund to handle financial stress
According to CNBC, 66% of Americans do not have an emergency fund that can cover at least 3 months’ worth of living expenses. Bankrate finds that less than half of Americans have $1,000 saved to cover an emergency expense.
If either one of these statistics describes you, it’s time to make a change. Commit to setting up an emergency fund right away.
Determine how much you can really afford to put away from each check. Even if you can only put $10 per check into it, that’s something! You have to start somewhere. After you set up a budget and track your spending for a month, you’ll have a better idea of how much you need to save in an emergency fund.
To make it as painless as possible, set up an auto transfer so that the money goes right out from your checking account into the savings account every time that you get paid. You can also choose to set it up so that the transfer occurs on the same day each month.
Set up a 401(k)
It’s hard to think about your future finances when you’re struggling at the moment. However, setting up a 401(k) to plan for your retirement is important. The sooner that you start saving in a 401(k), the better. Find out if your employer offers a match that you can take advantage of.
Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you get set up.
3) Find Ways to Make More Money
Another immediate action to take is to look for realistic ways to make more money. Whether you work full-time, part-time, or stay at home, there are ways that you can make more.
If you’re employed you can:
- Ask for a raise
- Ask for more hours
- Look for a new job that pays more or offers better flexibility
Side hustles are a great way to make money quickly. They can be used to earn money to pay down debt, add to your savings, or to reach a short-term financial goal.
You can go all-in on a side hustle in your free time. The best part is how flexible hustles can be, so you aren’t forced to stick with it if it isn’t the right fit. Set a goal and start working towards it.
Find a side hustle that allows you to make money when you’re not at work. There are so many creative ways that you can earn, from dog walking to taking surveys online to freelance writing, etc.
Choose a side hustle that interests you and that fits in with your schedule.
Read More: 14 Ways to Make Money Online
4) Stop Feeling Ashamed
When you struggle financially, it’s easy to feel ashamed. You feel like a failure, or like you just aren’t working hard enough. That simply isn’t true.
Remember that you aren’t alone. According to Debt.com, 49% of Americans feel anxious and concerned about their financial well-being.
Small but significant steps to handle financial stress make it easier to improve your situation. Let go of the guilt and resolve to do better. Write down a plan, research to learn more, and start budgeting and saving.
Read More: How to Stop Overspending
Take proactive steps to do better
One thing that you do have control over are your own actions. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t get you anywhere, and neither will simply doing nothing.
It’s much easier said than done, but you can make every effort to earn more and save more. Taking small steps is better than throwing up your hands in defeat.
Worry about money isn’t unusual, although knowing that probably brings little comfort. You can take control of your finances by being proactive and creating a budget, starting to save, and looking for opportunities to earn more money.