The stress of worrying about your finances is one of the most difficult to overcome. Whether you’re carrying more debt than you can comfortably manage, earning too little to meet the needs of your family or fighting with a spouse who has different ideas about financial management than you, it can really take its toll and end up affecting pretty much every aspect of your life.
The good news is, no matter where you are now or how impossible your situation seems to be, there are things you can do to cope better and get your finances into much better shape…
Draw Up a Budget
Yes, it’s basic advice, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good advice. In fact, if you’re only going to do one thing to take some of the financial stress away, make it this. When you have a budget, things suddenly become a lot clearer and you can finally see the woods for the trees. You have a clear path to follow and a way out of your troubles. Sure, having a budget might mean tightening your belt for a while, but it will be worth it when you’re feeling more relaxed day to day, and certainly when you’re out of debt.
Think About Forgotten Money Sources
Whether it’s checking your tax returns to see if you’re owed a refund or hiring personal injury lawyers dedicated to personal service who can help you claim for a work injury, it’s always worth exploring sources of forgotten and unclaimed money that you could be owed. Billions of dollars go unclaimed each year and if you’re owed some it could seriously take a load off your mind and go some way to solving your financial situation.
Set Up an Emergency Fund
Nothing gives you peace of mind like knowing you have a pot of money set aside to get you out of any stick financial situations you may find yourself in in the future. If you’re in debt, obviously make paying that off a priority, but if you can, set aside even just a few dollars each week to build your emergency fund.
Having an emergency fund means that you never have to dip into your budget for unexpected expenses like car repairs or broken appliances which need to be replaced, and that means you don’t end up going off budget or getting into debt again.
Ideally, you should build up an emergency fund of at least six months’ salary to give you a buffer should you end up out of work. Just imagine the peace of mind that having six months’ salary will bring!
If you’ve been hiding the extent of your financial worries from those closest to you, such as your spouse, your stress levels are likely to be very high indeed. Doing something about this is as simple as telling them what’s going on. It will be like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
Speak to Someone
Financial stress is no joke – it really can ruin your life – so if you’re struggling even after getting a budget in place, it may be worth speaking to a debt counseling professional who will be able to look at your spending issues and offer you the practical help and support you need to get back on track.
If that’s not your thing, there are money management classes at most community colleges that can be really useful and lots of online forums offering help and support too. If you can afford it, hiring a financial planner who will do everything for you could also be a good move.
Call the Companies
If you have credit card debt, it’s always worth calling the credit card companies to see what they can do to help. Often, they will offer temporary measures, such as freezing interest for a period, that will give you a little breathing space to get back on your feet. This is far more common than you might imagine, so you have nothing to lose by getting in touch and being honest.
Situations rarely change by themselves, so if you’re serious about dealing with your financial stress, you need to take the bull by the horns and make some changes. This could mean looking for a better-paid job so you can afford everything your family needs, curbing your spending so you can start saving for that emergency fund or cutting up your credit cards so you aren’t tempted to get into even more debt.
Making as many small changes as you can will help you to feel more positive about your financial situation, and this, in turn, should help to reduce the amount of stress you feel.
Making changes can be difficult, but if you start with something small and simple, like giving up expensive takeaway coffees, and then move on to bigger things, it should be a lot easier to manage.
Focus on the Positives
When money is getting you down, it’s important to remember that money isn’t everything. Obviously, money is pretty important, and when you don’t have any or you’re drowning in debt, it’s hard not to make it a priority, but obsessing will only serve to make you even more stressed. Take the time to think about all of the things you do have like a loving family, good friends, and food to eat. Write in a gratitude journal and look for the good in each day, With a more positive mindset, the task of fixing your finances will seem far easier, even if, in reality, nothing much has really changed.
Finding low-cost or free hobbies is also a good way to be more positive about life in general. Get out to free local events and exhibitions, get involved in the community and keep busy to keep financial stress at bay.
Financial stresses don’t just vanish overnight, but if you work on them and you do what you can not to dwell on them, things will improve, and more importantly, you’ll be happier in your day to day life.