A survey conducted by the APA reveals that as many as 72% of Americans feel stressed about their finances. Money is something that can make people feel extreme anxiety especially when they feel like they are not doing well managing their money. Another stress around money can come from feeling as though there’s not enough of it.
While different people are stressed about money for different reasons, it’s clear that Americans, in general, can use some help when it comes to managing their money to eliminate stress.
Though it’s impossible to anticipate every financial problem and emergency that will come up in life, there are some small changes to our lifestyles that we can make to help us manage money challenges as they come up.
Here are some ways to be proactive about your finances in order to reduce anxiety and stress related to money.
Make financial goals
Creating financial goals are a great way to begin reducing stress associated with your finances. Though it seems like goals are pie-in-the-sky dreams that could never come true, you might be surprised to know that once you write down a goal you’re much more likely to accomplish it.
Think about things that you would like to accomplish with your money in the near and long-term then put it in writing. Even if it seems outlandish or like something that you couldn’t possibly accomplish in your lifetime, go ahead and write it down anyway. You’ll find that with this simple exercise your anxiety around money will begin to diminish.
Now that you’ve made goals, it’s time to plan according to those goals. Breakdown your goals into small action steps that can be considered a plan. For example, if you want to save up at least $1,000 for your emergency savings fund, you should create a plan to do so. It might include working some overtime, selling things around the house you don’t need or even calling a few subscription services to get a better deal or cancel them altogether.
Once you make a plan for that goal, it’s time to start planning for other goals you have, too. If your goal is to pay down credit card debt, you might begin researching the best methods to do so. be sure to keep your plan wherever you’re keeping your goals so you can look back on them from time to time and make sure that they are in lockstep with one another. You can keep a binder with this information or use an app like Evernote to record your goals, plans, and related progress.
Once you began the planning process, you’ll find that many of your goals will require additional money in the form of savings. Plus, a common way to deal with unexpected life events will simply be to have more money saved, so you’ll want to prioritize this activity as soon as possible.
You may think that you don’t have any room in your budget to sock away extra money But with a little bit of attention and creativity, you’ll find that you probably have more capacity to save than you think.
Here are some ways to begin cultivating a regular savings habit:
- Split your direct deposit into your checking and a separate savings account
- Use savings apps like Digit, Tip Yourself or Acorns to automate your savings
- Look for deals and discounts to help you reduce spending and put more into savings
Managing your finances effectively is a learned behavior. It takes practice to master because it is both art and science. At the end of the day, personal finance is really very personal. Every decision you make doesn’t always come down to the numbers.
With this in mind, there will be times that you make good decisions and there will be times that you make bad decisions. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle when you fail. Relax. It’s only money. It can be replaced but you can’t!