I’m in my mid-20s and have a decent job. I’m able to pay all of my bills on time, and I try to save what I can for the future. But there are some bigger financial stressors that hang over my head, mostly my student loans and my car payments. I’m doing my best to stay afloat, but it seems like I am mostly just treading water.
I do my best to not let money control my life and my emotions, but it’s still frustrating to feel like I’m not making any progress on being financially independent. How do I keep my finances from stressing me out?
A recent poll shows that financial stress is listed as the leading cause of anxiety by 73% of Americans—many of us worry about issues related to money. Considering we need money for just about everything, including our emotional and physical security, there’s no denying that financial stress is quite real. But our money problems, however important they are, can be managed in a way that doesn’t hijack our emotions.
Some beneficial ways to cut down on your financial stress include:
- Recognizing the positive aspects of financial anxiety and stress: If you’re feeling the urge to iron out your finances, it’s because you’re probably feeling motivated to accomplish your financial goals, including paying off debts, fees, and bills. Studies show that anxiety isn’t always a bad thing, and can sometimes work as a motivator that pushes us toward our goals. It’s how we respond to our anxiety that matters most.
- Setting aside a specific time during the week where you focus on budgeting, financial planning, balancing your checkbook, and other financial tasks to help reduce your financial anxiety: Instead of letting your financial anxiety hang over your head each day, you may find comfort in knowing that each week, you’ve set aside a specific time to check your bank account, organize receipts, keep track of expenses, bills, and more.
- Creating tangible financial goals with the help of a life coach or therapist: Working with a mental health professional could result in you setting more realistic, achievable financial goals. While therapists and life coaches aren’t financial advisors, they can help you bridge the gap between your mental health and your ability to achieve short- and long-term monetary success.
- Avoiding spending or shopping sprees as a way to de-stress: Remaining mindful of your spending habits can do wonders for your ability to budget and save. Splurging on food, clothes, electronics, or other items can be a way to reward ourselves, but if it becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism for dealing with stress, it can make your emotional state worse and hurt your finances.
- Using technology to support your mental health: Apps like Mint, EveryDollar, Rocket Money, and others help you track your financial journey over time. And a lot of the process is automated—they’ll help invest, and even link your loans, bills, and rent/mortgage payments to your app’s budget tracker.
Chances are, we’ll always need money for the things that we want and need. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be emotionally independent and monetarily unaffected by financial anxiety.