Financial stress is something most people deal with at one time or another, whether it’s paying off student loans, purchasing a first home, or affording quality health care. In fact, in a recent survey, 85 percent of people said that they feel stressed about money at least sometimes, while 30 percent said finances were a constant stressor.
But it doesn’t have to be that way: With a few tips and tricks, budgeting and managing money doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing. We asked the Thrive Community for their best tips for reducing financial stress. There were so many wonderful strategies: Here are some of our favorites.
“I live without any debt to avoid unnecessary financial stress. That choice has required sacrifices like living in a small home and driving an older model car. But I feel content rather than deprived. Living debt-free gives me peace of mind. It also makes it possible for me to pursue work I’m truly passionate about rather than needing to have a high-paying job to keep up with bills.”
—Whitney Hopler, communications director, Fairfax, VA
Learn how to say no
“Figure out what you like to spend money on. For me it meant cutting back on spending money on clothes, nights out, to food I can’t cook, alcohol (unless it’s free or happy hour), and travel. I still enjoy my nights out, I still drink (but now less), and I take fewer taxis (more savings) and I feel great the next day, when I can do more fun stuff. It’s really a compounded effect!”
—Ayan Dutta, software sales, Austin, TX
Keep a budget
“The way I reduce financial stress is by keeping a budget. I’ve done this all my life, ever since I became a mum at 17. I feel it’s the only way I know where my money is going and how much is coming in to allow my finances to stay balanced. I used to keep it all written down in a book and now I have an app on my iPad. Every week/fortnight I match my budget with my bank statement. This way I know how much I do or don’t have to spend at the end of each week/fortnight. It works for me and I’m proud to say it alleviates my financial stress. All my payments etc. are set up in my bank and all my loans, etc., are directly debited. I do not miss a payment or default on anything as a result. I’m a proud budgeter.”
—Rebecca Henley, meditation teacher, holistic counsellor, Western Australia, Australia
Set aside emergency funds
“To reduce and ease financial stress, use emergency funds as a combative strategy. According to a Federal Reserve survey, 40 percent of adults don’t have the $400 to cover an emergency expense. No matter what state your finances are in, emergency funds are vital for everyone. Emergency funds remove pressure, which makes it easier to deploy increased resources towards eliminating one of the biggest stressors, debt, in the future. Establishing a savings and emergency fund in order to relieve financial stress and allow room to start paying off debt is the simplest way to minimize financial stress.”
—Chad Chubb, certified financial planner, Philadelphia, PA
Practice positive self-talk
“Whenever I’m feeling stressed about money and start to feel like I’m in a negativity spiral, I practice positive self-talk. Here are some examples of how I speak to myself:
- There are always options and opportunities available to me.
- I don’t have to do this alone.
- I can tap into my network to pursue another avenue.
- If I just focus on adding value, the money will follow.
This helps me approach the situation from a place of abundance instead of scarcity. And that’s how you can not only soothe yourself but attract more money in the process.”
—Chris Rackliffe, motivational writer and speaker, New York, NY
Consider yourself in a relationship with money
“By dealing with money as if we are in relationship. I check in with it every day (online banking), don’t give it away unless I am getting something amazing in return (monthly budget), and thank it for supporting me and my family (gratitude). Me and money are in it together for the long haul, so it’s better for both of us to treat each other with kindness and respect.”
—Karen Gurwitz, author, New York, NY
Know where the money is going
“A great tip is you have to understand where your money is spent and which debt collector of subscriptions has access to your checking account. There are leaking holes in many of our accounts attributed application subscription on our mobile phones, games that you paid for once but are still charging you. Are you spending more on utilities than necessary? Should you be spending less on entertainment and eating out for lunch every day? You will never know until you make a list of your bills that are recurring or fixed. If you have fixed outstanding bills building interest, pay those bills off first, then set your recurring bills on autopayment on a monthly basis so you can eliminate late fees and interest charges. Don’t let your bills take hold of your creativity and freedom to live as a human being, after all, you too deserve happiness and a stress-free life.”
—Denise Williams, CEO & co-founder, San Jose, Silicon Valley, CA
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