Financial stress impacts each of us differently: emotionally, mentally and physically. You don’t have to be rich or have it all to overcome financial stress. The key to managing stress is to feel and become more in control of your money. By changing how we think about and approach our financial situation, we can take back control and reduce the negative impact financial stress can cause.

Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.

In today’s society, wealth is often equated with happiness, and we can find ourselves focusing too much on what our friends or co-workers have and less on what’s really important.
  • Do not assess your worth by how much money you have. Remember that the things that are really important are not associated with wealth: your family, home, friends, job, and other things that are important to you.
  • Avoid comparing what you have to others. Recognize that what is important to others to have right now does not have to be important to you.
  • Recognize that you are not the only one with financial struggles. At some point, we all make sacrifices or face financial challenges we work to overcome.

Focus on What is Important to You
Recognize that what is important to others to have may not be important to you, and then focus on the things that really matter to you.
  • Rank your purchases from the most important to the least important and see where you can eliminate the expenses that are not important to you. Reassign this money to savings and other goals. You’ll begin to see your savings grow and your stress shrink.
  • Reflect on the things that you value most, and focus your budget and finances on those. For example, if continuing your education is important to you, then it’s ok to forgo getting a newer model car so that you have more income to set aside for future tuition. Or, choosing to brown bag it to work each day to have more pocket money for the weekend excursions you love means that you are making your money work for you and not the other way around.

Take Care of You
  • Practice habits that help you be more in control of your finances which will help you de-stress in the long run.
  • Be active. When the stress of making it to the next paycheck is getting to you, go for a walk or get some other form of exercise.
  • Spend a few minutes reflecting on what you are grateful for each day. Whether you begin the day making a list of the things you are grateful for today, or spend some time at the end of the day reflecting on what was good, be sure to take some time to focus on the good.
  • Find something that helps you relax and dedicate time every day to unwinding. Go for a stroll around the block, relax on the porch swing, or other relaxing activity to unwind and quiet your mind.

Set Realistic Goals
The only way to take control of your financial situation is to envision what you want to achieve and set goals to get there.
Write down your goals. By writing out your goals, you can better visualize what it is you want to achieve.
Your written goals should be specific and realistic. If your goal is to save up for a down payment on a new car, decide exactly how much you need to save and set a realistic monthly savings goal to reach it.
Goals should be measurable. Check in with yourself on a periodic basis and measure how much further you’ve gotten towards your goal. This will help you stay on track and make adjustments along the way.
Be realistic. When determining how much to save each month towards your goal, be realistic as to how much you can afford to set aside. Be careful not to get carried away and commit yourself to more than you can save each month and still meet your other financial needs.
Give yourself a time limit. If you give yourself a deadline, you are much more likely to stay focused and on track.

Find Support
Finding support when you are overwhelmed can help you find solutions you may not be able to see through the stress of your current financial crisis.
Seek advice from those whom you trust and who understand what you value. This may be a family member or a friend, but having a sounding board in someone who has been where you are or who has made sound financial choices might be able to help you find more manageable ways to achieve your goals.  
Find a financial advisor who can help you objectively evaluate your finances and align your financial activity with your goals. It can be hard to separate our emotions from our finances, and having an objective expert can help you see things you might have missed.

What it all boils down to is choosing to take action taking a deliberate approach to how you manage and view your finances. By focusing on the goals that are important to you and surrounding yourself with the tools, support, and environment that helps you work towards your financial goals, you will be able to reduce your financial stress and reach that light at the end of the tunnel.


 

Check out our upcoming workshops that can help you take control of your financial future and reach your goals:

October 14:  Join us for Budgets Over Bagels in Auburn to get tips and tools to build a budget that works for you.

October 21: We’ll brew up some conversation with Coffee and Credit in Troy while we talk about what makes up your credit report and score, share tips for managing and getting smarter about credit.