Money can be complicated. Even millionaires report financial stress caused by the pressure to keep earning and maintain their families’ lifestyles. And when the rest of us non-millionaires feel like we can hardly rub two nickels together, it makes sense that we might lose our cool from time to time. These tips might help you cope with your financial anxiety.
Anxiety begins in your head. So it can make sense to start tackling your money problems with your mind.
- Change your thoughts. If you cringe every time you imagine George Washington’s face on a dollar bill, try to stop for a moment and consider that, unlike traffic, weather, and angry bosses, you have some control over your financial habits and decisions. Try telling yourself, out loud if you need to: “It’s going to be OK. I decide what I spend my money on and how much I want to spend. I have control.”
- Find friendly encouragement. Meet a friend for lunch – or better yet, make lunch together at home to save some dough. Find someone who has also experienced financial troubles who may be more understanding and even have tips and tricks for you.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, common anxiety disorder symptoms include muscle tension and sleep problems. And the Mayo Clinic says stress left unchecked can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Here are some proactive options that may help combat stress:
- Maintain regular exercise. If money problems are keeping you out of the high-end gym in your area, get outside. There are great workouts you can do at any local park for free. Or you can combine two coping mechanisms and go for a hike or walk with a friend.
- Combine body and mind by practicing yoga. Though yoga memberships can get pricey, there are plenty of free yoga videos for those who can’t spare the change.
Of course, when dealing with financial stress, it helps to put your money where your mouth is and take real financial action.
- Make a budget. Use online tools, or at the very least write down all of your expenses. Include things like food, housing, transportation, clothing, and social engagement expenses like alcohol and entertainment. Then compare what you’re spending versus what you’re bringing in. Having everything out in the open will show you where you might be overspending and help identify changes you can make to free up some cash.
- Single out a spending decision. Everyone’s different. Some spend too much on housing because they want to live in a specific part of town. Others struggle to control their spending at bars and events. Start by identifying one thing you think you can cut back on. Make it manageable. Do you spend $100 on clothes per month? Try cutting it to $50. Achievable, bite-sized goals will help you develop money-saving habits over the long run.
- Automate. Credit card payments. Utility bills. Rent or mortgage. All of these bills can be automated online, which means you don’t have to think about them or those pesky late fees when you set everything up to be paid on time.
- Pay yourself first. Focus on storing up a solid emergency fund, savings account, or on getting yourself out of debt before you spend your cash on trendy food trucks and Uber rides. It’s the best way to ensure you have money when you need it the most.
Have any financial coping tips? Share them below in the comments section.
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