Financial stress — it can be a vicious cycle, really. From life events (divorce, illness or job loss) to life lessons (overspending, poor budgeting), debts and other financial responsibilities can really pile up. Once the stress starts many people wind up feeling anxious, scared, angry, and even depressed which, in turn, can cause more financial mismanagement when trying to catch up. Sound familiar to you or someone you know? If so, read on for some thoughts on how to win the battle:
Recognize and acknowledge: Juggling bills and robbing Peter to pay Paul? That will probably lead to a clenched jaw and irritability after awhile. Screening calls from collection agents? Undoubtedly you’ll have a poor night’s sleep, but connecting it to financial stress isn’t always as simple as it seems, especially if you’ve been coping for some time. Unfortunately, avoidance won’t fix much. But pinpointing the source(s) of financial distress, so you can eradicate it for good, will definitely help!
Set a daily budget: Figure out what your financial priorities are. Sort your fixed expenses such as rent or your mortgage, then move on to the variable ones, like food and clothing. If paying down a certain loan or credit card is causing the stress then move that to the top of the list. If it’s building up your savings or emergency fund, find a bank account that will allow you to do so as seamlessly as possible.
Talk it out: You’re not alone. Financial-related stress is part of a lot of people’s worries! Whether it’s with your spouse, a friend, or even your doctor, find someone you’re comfortable talking to and go for it. Opening up about the stress of your finances can start to alleviate the burdensome feelings.
Give yourself a break: Once you’ve set yourself on the road to financial peace of mind remember that it will take some time to see results. The new budget may need revisions as you progress and the savings won’t accumulate overnight. In the meantime make sure you allow yourself opportunities to pursue activities that will take your mind off of money. Reading, going for a walk, and meeting up with friends are easy (and cheap) places to start!
Ask a professional: If you’re starting to think your debts are at a level beyond the resources you have, contact a professional. Ask for a meeting with a reputable company to review potential debt-resolution options you may have available to you. A note of caution in this area: It shouldn’t cost you money to speak with someone about your debt (just makes sense right?). Consumer Proposal Administrators or Trustees in Bankruptcy will offer free initial consultations.
If your finances have been causing you anxiety, it’s time to climb into the drivers seat and take back control. Despite how it may feel now and then, no situation is hopeless and there is light at the end of the money tunnel!