While money stress may never completely disappear, reducing it as much as possible can improve your relationships, health and general sense of well-being. (Getty Images)
Many people mistakenly believe that if they just had more money, all their financial anxiety would disappear and they could finally be happy. In some cases, earning more is the solution to improving your financial health or dealing with a hardship. But what’s surprising is that you can feel stress no matter how much you make.
While money stress may never completely disappear, reducing it as much as possible can improve your relationships, health and general sense of well-being. Use these five tips to quit stressing, or at least stress less about money, so you have a more peaceful life.
Stay up-to-date with your finances. If you delay opening bills or avoid peeking at financial accounts, not staying up-to-date with your money situation can only make it worse. Address mail right away and set a payment date for bills, so you don’t miss deadlines.
If you’re having trouble paying bills, talk to your creditors. Requesting a deferment of payments or a new payment plan could be the key to having more financial breathing room. You never know what’s possible until you ask.
Create extra sources of income. It can be difficult to strop stressing about money if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or can’t cover your monthly expenses. Knowing that you’re going backward or treading water can cause worry and financial stress.
To break the cycle, brainstorm ways to earn more income, such as looking for a higher paying job, getting a second job, starting your own business or starting a side gig.
Think about ways to leverage skills you already use in your job to create a profitable project or side business. You may have interests and abilities that people would pay for, such as teaching music, gardening, designing, caring for pets, writing or tutoring.
Having multiple sources of income is like an insurance policy. Not only does it help you pay bills and eliminate debt faster, but it helps you maintain security if one stream of income dries up.
Radically cut your expenses. If you’re spending too much due to a hardship or because you or someone in your family is a chronic overspender, you’ve likely seen savings dwindle and debt balances go up, right along with your anxiety level.
Consider radically cutting large expenses, such as housing. A good rule of thumb is to never spend more than 25 percent of your gross income on a mortgage or rent payment. Take a hard look at downsizing or relocating to a less expensive neighborhood or town.
If debt is a stressor, a general guideline is to keep the total of all your monthly debt obligations below 40 percent of your gross monthly income. If you don’t have extra money to whittle down debt balances faster, consider refinancing, doing a balance transfer or changing payment plans on student loans to make debt more manageable.
Even high earners can feel anxious about having too many financial accounts or being disorganized. Take time to simplify your life by rolling over old retirement accounts with previous employers or using fewer financial institutions.
Focus on the positive in your financial life. For many, financial stress comes from projecting a worst-case scenario into the future. Remind yourself that you’re not in the future – you’re in the present moment where you have the power to make a difference.
Though it may sound like a cliché, keeping a positive attitude and using positive language can reduce stress. Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong with your finances, think about what’s going right that you can be grateful for. Try using “The Five-Minute Journal: A Happier You In Five Minutes a Day,” which is available as a book and app and gives you the space to note what you’re grateful for each day.
Get professional help. If you have persistent financial problems that you can’t solve on your own, talk to a wise friend, family member or financial counselor, which you can find through resources such as Wealthminder or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. They may help you see options and find solutions to financial challenges that you’re overlooking.
Simply having a plan, such as a budget or debt reduction strategy, can be a powerful way to feel more in control of your finances and reduce stress.