Financial stress has become a part of our daily routine. A recent survey shows that while 85% of Americans are ‘’sometimes’’ stressed about money, 30% are “constantly” stressed about their financial situation. That probably explains why 43% of Americans cite ‘’unexpected expenses” as their biggest concern.
Money-worries make their presence felt in different ways. Whether it be a fear of repaying the student debt, not having enough money in the bank for retirement, or struggling to put together the cash to buy a new home, there are times in the lives of everyone when money dictates our mood.
Apart from worsening our mood, this stress might also end up jeopardizing your health. Ongoing mental pressure can cause several problems, including, but not limited to, weight gain, sleep issues, depression and anxiety, and increased blood pressure.
So what can you do to reduce financial stress in your life? Here are three ways that may give you the feeling of being in control when dealing with money matters.
#1: Start tracking your expenditures
Here’s a habit I was forced to develop after nearly going bankrupt: create an excel file in to note down your daily expenses. The headings on top of successive columns might read us “Date of purchase,” “Name of Item,” Price of Item,” respectively.
Whether you bought a pencil from your local store or ordered a charging station for phones from halfway across the world, you should note it down in this file. Provided you have a smartphone, it would be better if this file is in there, as it would make it less likely for you to forget noting down your expenses.
What would tracking your expenditures do? It would make you self-accountable. More importantly, it will make you aware of the needless expenses that you could avoid next month. That way, after a few months of living below your means, you’d feel greater financial freedom.
#2: Communicate with your loved ones
Money isn’t the favorite topic in most families for various reasons. But as many of us know from experience, pretending that a problem doesn’t exist isn’t going to make it go away. We have to tackle the issue head-on to come up with a solution.
That’s why you should communicate with your partner and make sure that both of you are on the same page about financial habits. The shared vision about spending which you might develop by taking into account their input would reduce arguments in the future.
Furthermore, when you’d give everyone the chance to offer their viewpoint, it would provide them with a sense of ownership. It would then make it easy for you and your entire family to meet the spending goals that would chart your life away from financial stress.
#3: Automate your financial life
Make sure that a portion of your monthly paycheck automatically goes to your savings account. Take your smartphone off the phone charger station and set up periodic alarms to alert you when a bill is due. Provided you have to pay some recurring bills, put them on auto-pay.
Automating your financial life will help you in two ways. First, it will give you the peace of mind that without having to lift a finger, your financial priorities are addressed. Second, since you’d be paying every bill on time, you’d be saving the extra amount that you might otherwise have to pay in fines.