Worrying about money and debt is, unfortunately, pretty common. Covering your monthly bills can be stressful enough, but what if you suddenly need to pay for car repairs or some other expenses you hadn’t budgeted for? For many, stress and money go hand in hand, and that could have serious implications on your health in general. If this sounds familiar to you, you may be wondering how to not stress about money so much. Here are some tips to help you understand money stress and feel more at peace about your finances.
Money stress is a common problem
Studies have found that many people experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with regard to their finances. In fact, one third of millennials reported such symptoms. This stress can manifest itself as:
- Worry: Excessive concern about being homeless or other worst-case scenarios related to being unable to pay off debt.
- Nightmares: Sleepless nights can have severe impact on your day-to-day life.
- Avoidance: If you don’t pay bills on time, you could incur late fees.
- Denial: You ignore the reality of the situation and don’t take ownership for paying off debt.
If any of this strikes a chord with you, you’re not alone. Over 40% of U.S. households have credit card debt, with an average balance of over $6,000. The interest on that could cost nearly $1,300 per year. It’s no wonder we’re stressed about money.
[Pull quote: Over 40% of U.S. households have credit card debt.]
Understanding your reaction to money problems can help you adjust your approach, take control of your finances, and reduce your stress levels. These four tips can help:
1. Stop retail therapy
A common tactic people use to boost their mood is retail therapy. But this can easily lead to more debt and more stress. Before you buy, learn to HALT by questioning if you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. By taking a moment to assess, you can discover what will satisfy you—eating a snack, addressing an issue with your spouse, calling a friend, or going to bed early. The benefits of using HALT can be long lasting, and leave you with fewer or lower bills to pay at the end of the month. To resist online impulse-buys, you can also delete credit card information stored on your computer and mobile devices.
2. Curb anxiety by taking action
Money problems can make you anxious and fearful. If you’re trying to figure out how to not stress about money, you’ve already taken an important step–taking action. Keep the momentum going by being proactive and staying on track to pay down your debt:
- Set up automatic payments: This can help ensure you don’t receive late fees.
- Put credit cards out of reach: Rather than cut them up, simply take them out of your wallet. If it’s still “too easy to spend,” then try freezing the cards in a container of water or take them out of the house and put them in safe deposit box at a bank.
- Find a credit counselor: Consider hiring a professional service that can coach you on how to create better budgeting skills.
Taking action and feeling like you’re making progress can help reduce your levels of money anxiety.
3. Calm yourself
While you’re taking concrete steps to improve your finances, it helps to find additional ways to deal with feelings of anxiety. The following stress management techniques can help you feel more relaxed so that money stress doesn’t take over your life.
- Start exercising: Work with a doctor to create an exercise plan.
- Learn to meditate: Attend a class or download a free app.
- Seek counseling: Look for a mental health counselor who can help you understand the root causes of your stress and ways to cope with it.
Finding specific ways to respond to your anxiety is useful because not only can it help you with financial stress, but it also comes in handy when dealing with other sources of stress.
4. Take ownership
One source of stress is the feeling that your finances are out of control. So, a good first step for those wondering how to not stress about money is to remember that you are in control. Saying “I choose to live frugally” is more empowering than “I should live frugally” because it reinforces your power and ownership over the situation. By saying “I choose…” to friends, family, and yourself, you’re emphasizing that this is your decision. And plus, you might inspire others with how serious and relaxed you are about being careful with your money, knowing that this choice will help you become debt-free.
Get rid of debt to get rid of stress
If you still feel overwhelmed and stressed out by debt, it might be time to take action. Freedom Debt Relief is here to help you understand your options for dealing with your debt, including our debt relief program. Our Certified Debt Consultants can help you find a solution that will put you on the path to a better financial future. Even the simple act of enrolling in a program could immediately reduce stress since you know you’re on a path toward a solution. Find out if you qualify right now.
- Put Down That Credit Card: Avoid Extra Debt, Especially Now (Forbes)
- 3 Ways to Cope with Financial Stress (Freedom Debt Relief)
- Study: Freedom Debt Relief Helps Clients Reduce Stress (Freedom Debt Relief)