6 Tips to Address Financial Stress
- Tracy East
August 19, 2020
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Americans are increasingly stressed, and a primary cause of that stress is likely no surprise to many of us. A 2018 survey by Northwestern Mutual found that financial stress was the primary source of stress for 44% of those surveyed. And with all of the turmoil of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely that those numbers are climbing.
While stress may seem like an everyday part of life when you’re an adult with a host of responsibilities, research has found that financial stress may also affect our health. Living in an ongoing state of unease and anxiety (such as living paycheck to paycheck or wondering how you’re going to pay your rent next month) increases the body’s cortisol levels and poses a risk for health such as:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
- Anxiety and Depression
Health issues caused by stress can lead to more serious illnesses, so it’s important to address them as quickly as possible. While you may not be able to change your immediate financial situation, you can take steps to manage the impact that your financial stress has on you.
There are practical steps you can take to reduce financial stress. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.
6 Tips to Address Financial Stress
- Identify your stressors: You may have a high credit card balance or you may be lacking an emergency fund. Whatever is causing your financial stress, it’s important to name it and get it out into the open. Often, it’s the unspoken worries that loom the largest in our minds, haunting us late at night when we should be sleeping. If you feel like the list is long and overwhelming, consider listing the three biggest financial sources of stress so you can focus on those areas first, without the pressure of feeling like there are too many areas to focus on.
- Come up with a plan: Having a concrete plan can help you feel more relaxed and in control. Perhaps you need to start by working on an emergency fund to help cushion against a future financial crisis. Or maybe, you need an immediate plan for addressing a current financial crisis and knowing how you’ll pay your bills next month. If you need help coming up with a plan, a credit counselor can walk you through a financial assessment and help you identify the solutions that best fit your unique situation.
- Be realistic: Set goals that you can reasonably achieve. Taking small steps will go a long way towards helping you feel like you are in the driver’s seat instead of your money worries controlling you.
- Review your budget: If you don’t have a budget, that’s the best place to start! Evaluate your income and expenses, taking care to consider areas that can be adjusted to help you reach your financial goals. Having a budget can be a great step towards managing financial stress because you know exactly where your money is going instead of guessing.
- Communicate proactively: If you’re struggling financially, consider reaching out to your creditors and see if they have any hardship programs to help you get on your feet. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many programs and options available to help you stay afloat. A surprising number of people stay financially stressed because they’re afraid to speak up and ask for help. Don’t be afraid to talk to your creditors and negotiate. Contact your utility companies and find out how they can help. Evaluate your insurance rates, your cable TV or internet plans, your cell phone plans to find better rates. It all starts with communication!
- Keep an Optimistic Mindset: Have you ever heard the phrase, “what you look for, you will find?” To a large degree, it’s true! It’s important when financial stress mounts, to take a moment, breathe deeply and turn your thoughts in an optimistic direction. Over time, as you incorporate the tips above, you’ll start seeing a decrease in your financial stress that will make it easier to see possibility instead of a crisis. Find all of the things you can celebrate accomplishing financially and pat yourself on the back -- you’ve worked hard, and deserve the recognition!
If you are experiencing financial stress and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.