Dealing With Financial Stress: Avoid Stress & Heartache With Strategic Financial Planning
There is simply no avoiding the fact that financial worries cause stress to you and those around you. Money concerns wreak havoc on the most laid-back personalities, so let’s look at proven ways to minimize, and maybe even eliminate, that stress.
The first step is to identify what financial aspect or aspects of your current situation is causing you to worry nonstop. Is it a car payment? Unexpected medical costs? Too high a rent payment? Too many credit card bills? Outstanding loans for education? Or a combination of some or all of the above?
Write down the issues that are causing you to stay up at night. Just naming specifics is the start to getting a handle on which ones are more quickly addressed and resolved. Now write down what you want and where you want to be. Silly as it might seem, the mere fact of committing reality to paper empowers you and puts you in charge.
Break Goals into Smaller, More Attainable Steps
One of the best ways to relieve stress related to financial stress is to reduce some of the demands on your money. You can do this by developing good budgeting practices.
Determine how much money you need for those day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month must-pay expenses. Now look at how much you spend. Every penny. The first thing most of us realize is that some of what we spend money on is extraneous to what we need.
If you can save twenty-five to fifty dollars a week by foregoing that mid-morning coffee and bagel and not grabbing lunch from the salad or sandwich shop, it amounts to an extra one-hundred to four-hundred dollars per month you can forego to cut costs and allocate to paying off a credit card or two. Pay down the ones with the highest interest rates first.
This is the easiest change for everyone when it comes to cutting costs, but one most people overlook out of habit. The best part? You will have made a huge step forward in eliminating that sinking feeling of despair because now you realize it can be done!
Focus On What You Can Change
Some things are completely out of our control, including illness, company sell-outs, cut-backs, or accidents. This is why having a contingency fund is so important. But until you can get a realistic handle on your budget, putting a bit of extra cash into that contingency fund seems unfeasible. Putting together a workable budget is key. And don’t worry about the unknown “ifs”. As you see your debt dwindle and accrue an increasing slush fund, those “ifs” won’t loom with such intensity.
Budget for Fun
You’ve determined the areas of greatest financial stress. You know what you want to achieve. You’ve figured out ways to cut back cash. Now you need to budget for fun things. And a lot of that fun can be completely free.
Living within your new budget does not necessitate living like a hermit. Trade the shopping trip to the mall with friends to a hike or bike ride with them. Check out the free concerts hosted by your city’s park and recreation department or local neighborhood art shows and jam sessions.
It’s Okay to Ask for Outside Help
Know you are not alone in your worry, frustration, fear, and despair. An astronomical number of people are going through exactly the same trials you are. That’s why many non-profit organizations, schools, and communities host free financial planning help seminars and events. You don’t need to sign or commit to a thing – but ask questions and gather more tips.
Financial planning businesses and credit counselors are another source. Therapists are skilled in helping people cope with stress and are far more conducive to a positive outcome than some self-medicating remedies.
Getting to the point of financial stability is a journey - and most often not an easy one. But with a plan and determination, anyone can improve their quality of life with minimal or no stress. In time, you may have investments, savings, and look towards buying a home!