Community//

5 Ways to Prevent Money Stress from Taking Over Your Life

If you're struggling financially or drowning in debt, it can feel stressful and overwhelming. Here are some methods to combat stress created by financial woes.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.


Debt can have a domino effect on your well-being, and most Americans struggle to stay on top of their finances. The majority of us are living paycheck to paycheck without an emergency fund. That could be why money worries are a significant source of stress for six out of 10 Americans, according to a 2019 report from the American Psychological Association. 

For those struggling financially, finding ways to curb stress may be just as important as choosing strategies to manage money. That’s because financial stress has a significant impact on your physical and mental health. Chronic stress has been linked to headaches and migraines, along with an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, metabolic disorders, depression and immune disorders. It can also exacerbate pre-existing conditions such as respiratory diseases and chronic bowel disorders. What’s more, about a third of Americans report delaying healthcare due to concerns over the cost, compounding the impact of money woes on health.

5 ways to keep money stress at bay

1. Be proactive


If you compulsively check your account balances without setting spending limits, it’s a bit like watching through the peephole for intruders instead of locking your door. You’re causing yourself a significant amount of undue stress while doing little to prevent hardship. 

It’s a good idea to track your spending, but your focus should be on establishing a budget. Adults who don’t budget are more likely to feel worried and stressed, according to a survey from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, while 62% of respondents who have a budget report feeling more in control

To create a budget, analyze your past spending habits and look for areas where you may be able to reduce non-essential spending. Add up known expenses like rent and utilities and subtract them from your post-tax income. Then allocate the rest to spending categories such as groceries and gas, making sure you have some leftover to deposit into a savings account.

2. Automate your savings


No matter your income, you should set aside money for emergencies and retirement. But worries about how much you can safely put aside may add to your stress. That’s why you should build your savings into your budget and set up an automatic deposit into a high-yield savings or investment account each month. If you have direct deposit, you may also elect to have a portion of your paycheck sent right to your savings account. If you stay consistent with your savings, you’ll build up a nest egg that will help prepare you for setbacks, reducing your financial stress. 

Another option is to utilize technology to help you save. For example, apps like Digit can analyze your spending habits and upcoming bills to determine how much you can save each day. There are also apps that round up every purchase you make on a linked debit card to set aside your spare change. Qapital rounds up your purchases to help you meet savings goals, while Acorns invests your spare change for you. These tools can make it easy to establish healthy financial habits without causing undue stress.

3. Make a change


If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you’ll either need to secure additional income or change your spending habits to get back on track. But if you try to make too many changes at once, you could cause yourself significant stress. Instead, choose one habit or behavior and make a change that will set you up for financial security. You might:

  • Negotiate a raise.
  • Get a second job or side hustle.
  • Find ways to earn passive income.
  • Move to a location with a lower cost of living. Americans in some states are more financially stressed than others.
  • Cut expenses like dining out and entertainment.
  • Forego holiday spending.
  • Sell your car.
  • Get a roommate.
  • Look into government assistance programs.

4. Break down your financial goals


Experts recommend goal-setting as a way to reduce stress. The more you can break down your goals into achievable objectives, the less stressful it will be to work towards a healthier financial future. 

For example, if your goal is to pay down debt, you might start by allocating $100 more each month towards tackling your highest interest debt. Set a goal that is realistic and measurable, so you won’t get too frustrated and you can easily track your progress.

5. Find healthy coping techniques


While you work towards better money management, you should take steps to reduce your current stress levels. Some healthy ways to reduce stress include:

  • Aerobic exercise.
  • Mindfulness meditation.
  • Therapy or counseling.
  • A balanced diet.
  • Doing something creative (art, music, movement or drama).
  • Seeking support from friends and family.

Avoid unhealthy coping techniques that could increase your stress in the long run, such as drinking alcohol, smoking or overeating. 

Financial instability can be incredibly overwhelming, but don’t let the stress prevent you from making healthy changes to your behavior. The best way through a period of financial hardship is to take small steps in the right direction while choosing a strategy to reduce your stress levels.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Getty Images
Community//

5 Ways to Elevate Your Economic Health

by Danetha Doe
Community//

The Simple Answer To Eliminating Crippling Credit Card Debt

by Laura E Baize
Well-Being//

How to Stop Stressing About Money for Good

by Grow

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.