When you’re dealing with financial stress, it can keep you from being able to live your life and be happy. Your thoughts of money and bills take over and are always in the front of your mind, which can lead to depression and anxiety. And when that happens, you start to feel stuck, like you’ll never break out of your rut, so you close yourself off to opportunities that could help.
Finances are a source of stress for many people, but they don’t have to be. When you can find ways to reduce your financial stress, you’ll find yourself better able to think of solutions and opportunities will begin to present themselves.
Here are three core strategies for reducing financial stress when things are especially difficult:
Create a Plan
One of the reasons you may feel stress is because you don’t feel in control of your finances. Instead, you feel your finances are controlling you. You feel the constraints of not being able to spend freely and worry about how you’ll pay each bill.
Put yourself back in control by creating a plan. Start by creating a budget. Make a list of all the expenses that have to be paid each month, as well as a list of things that are optional, like gym memberships and movie rentals. Next figure out your actual, take-home income. When you look at the two numbers side-by-side, do you need more money each month or are there a few dollars left over?
Next look for ways to cut expenses by reducing things you don’t need. Then, create a plan for bringing in more income. What kind of side jobs can you find that will bring in a few extra dollars each month? A quick Google search can provide a wealth of idea.
If you feel like you can’t spend anything, it will only create more stress. Instead, create a spending limit for each of your budget categories. You can buy whatever you need or want, as long as it’s within your spending limit for the month. Make a game out of figuring out where you can save and getting the best price you can find.
If you’re feeling the urge to spend and buy yourself something to cheer you up, that’s okay. Just give it a limit. No more than $5 or $10. Then challenge yourself to find something that will make you happy within that limit.
When it comes to money, one thing’s for sure, everyone deals with financial stress at some point. You are never alone in your struggle. Talk to friends and family, let them know what you’re dealing with. When you do, two things will happen. They’ll be more understanding when you tell them you can’t do something and they’ll probably even make more budget-friendly suggestions for spending time together. And, they may have some advice from a time when they dealt with the same issues and overcame them. They may even surprise you by explaining that they’re in the same boat as you, but were to afraid to say anything.
Start a support group with friends and family to share ideas for saving money, budgeting, and reducing your spending on things like groceries and utility bills. Everyone has different ideas, you’ll find great information from others.
Whatever you do, take control of your financial situation and face it head on. It’s the best way to reduce your stress and know that it won’t always be this way.