Financial Stress: What Is It and How to Handle It
Everyone worries about money from time to time. But when the worry becomes persistent, it starts to impact our lives in a more significant way than we may realize. If this sounds all too familiar to you, you may be experiencing financial stress.
What Is Financial Stress?
Financial stress is the worry, anxiety or fear you feel towards your finances. The stress caused by your financial situation can cause physical symptoms you may have been attributing to other aspects of your life. For instance, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia are all symptoms that can be brought on by persistent financial stress.
Similar to other stressors, financial problems can make a huge impact on your physical and mental health and can even affect your relationships and overall quality of life. When the symptoms of financial stress become overwhelming, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Here are some symptoms of financial stress to look out for to avoid falling down a rabbit hole:
Anxiety. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This alone is enough to make us feel unnerved but add unexpected expenses such as hospital bills or job loss and it may just push you over the edge. An accelerated heartbeat, shaking, and panic attacks are some of the byproducts of experiencing anxiety.
Insomnia. It’s not hard to believe that money problems can keep us up all night wondering about solutions and worse case scenarios.
Weight gain or loss. Stress can often disrupt your appetite by causing you to skip or ration meals. It can also lead to overeating as a coping mechanism.
Failing Relationships. The number one cause of relationship difficulties amongst couples is money problems. By causing irritability, frustration and insecurity, financial stress can eat away even the healthiest of relationships.
While financial stress can seem undefeatable in the moment, it doesn’t have to dictate your life. Learning how to identify and cope with financial stress can help you take back control over your life.
How to Handle Financial Stress
Take inventory of your finances.
Stuffing unpaid bills into the back of your junk drawer is not going to ease your stress. It’s time to stop denying reality and face your bills head on and create a plan of attack. This is going to seem like a daunting task at the beginning, but it’s the first step in identifying the problem and hopefully, coming up with a solution to your money problems.
Keeping track of your finances going forward can help bring back some sense of control by giving you a clearer idea of where you stand financially. While some money problems will be easier to solve than others, it’s important to celebrate even the smallest of wins.
Create a budget.
Once you’ve taken inventory of your finances and identified the problem(s), you can now create a plan of attack. Creating a budget doesn’t just mean restricting your spending – it means determining if you’re spending more than you make and which purchases are costing you more than they should. Even the smallest of insignificant expenses mount up over time.
- Write down your monthly income, then write down your monthly expenses.
- Subtract your expenses from your income to determine the minimum amount of money that needs to be allocated to them every month.
By creating a budget, you might just find that you make enough to cover your expenses and then some. This can help ease your financial stress by making you realize you’re in a much better financial situation than previously thought.
List your debts, then pay them off.
Debts include student loans, past-due bills, credit cards, etc. By allowing your debt to rack up, you’re putting yourself in a position you may never get out of – spending the rest of your life worrying about your money problems.
- List your debts smallest to largest, not including interest rate. Make the minimum payments on all of them except the smallest.
- Use all of your leftover money to pay off the smallest debt. Once it’s paid off, do the same with the second smallest, and so on until all of your debts are paid off.
By starting with these tips, you should be well on your way to tackling your financial stress. But never underestimate your emotional state of mind, and if you feel like it is unmanageable, consider seeking professional help to either manage your stress or get your finances in order.
Let Currency Exchange help you take back financial control. We offer payment services such as Electronic Bill Pay and Money Transfers to help you pay off your expenses easier and faster. Find a location near you.
With over 350 locations, many open nights, weekends, and holidays (and several stores with 24/7 availability), you can rest easy knowing your financial needs can be taken care of when you need them most. We’re in the heart of every community. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.