Money is a major source of stress for many of us. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Without money, we can feel anxious and insecure, since we do not have the means to meet our basic needs.
In fact, according to a Capital One and Decision Lab survey, more than three in four (77%) Americans are anxious about their financial situation.
But what happens if we worry too much about money? It can negatively affect our mental and physical health, preventing us from living our best lives. Additionally, when money is causing stress in a marriage, it can damage the relationship.
The good news is that if you suffer from money anxiety, you have some things you can do to stop worrying and start thriving. Here are some tips to help you:
1. Understand your relationship with money.
Understanding your relationship with money is the first step to overcoming money anxiety. Are there any beliefs you hold about money? Are there any fears or concerns you are most concerned about? By understanding how you relate to money, you will be able to identify and challenge any negative thoughts or beliefs you may have.
For instance, if you believe money is scarce and that you’ll never have enough, this belief likely contributes to your anxiety. The more you challenge this belief and start thinking about money as abundant and flowing easily to you, the more relaxed and confident you’ll feel.
2. Create a budget.
Establishing a budget is an effective way to eliminate money anxiety. Why? A budget allows you to see where your money goes by tracking your income and expenses. You can use this information to make informed financial decisions and prevent overspending.
Choosing the right budgeting method is important, so choose one that works for you and stick with it. You can find a variety of online resources and financial counselors to help you create a budget. But, I suggest you start with these free budgeting tools.
3. Identify your thought patterns.
Finding a healthy way to express your emotions can be helpful when dealing with overwhelming feelings. It is for this reason that a journal is considered a useful tool in managing your mental health. By keeping a journal, you will be able to:
- Manage your anxiety
- Become less stressed
- Take care of depression
By journaling, you can improve your mood and control your symptoms:
- Identifying and prioritizing your problems, fears, and concerns
- You can better control your symptoms by tracking symptoms each day so that you can recognize triggers and learn how to prevent them from happening
- Positivity is encouraged and negative thoughts and behaviors are identified
Keeping a journal when you’re stressed or anxious can help you identify what’s making you feel that way. In order to reduce stress, you’ll need to identify the problems that are causing your stress and work towards resolving them.
In particular, you may want to keep a worry journal. It helps to acknowledge worries, capture them on paper, and release them.
If you want to start a worry journal, here are some tips:
- All your money worries, big and small, should be written down.
- Time yourself for three minutes and make a list of what you need to do.
- Create a page for each worry and get to the bottom of it.
- For two weeks, write down your worries as they arise.
- What is your biggest financial worry? Write it down.
- Be specific.
4. Build an emergency fund.
You can use an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, such as job loss, medical emergencies, or car repairs. If something happens, you can fall back on your emergency fund for peace of mind.
It is recommended that you save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund. After you’ve saved up an emergency fund, you can focus on saving for other financial goals, such as a down payment or retirement.
5. Improve your financial situation.
I know. This is obvious. If you change your financial situation, you can also stop worrying about money.
The question is, how do you actually enact material change? The following tips will help you get started:
Get out of debt.
One of the biggest sources of money anxiety is debt. As such, you should develop a plan to pay off your debt as soon as possible if you are in debt. Choosing a debt repayment method that works for you is important, so find one that works for you and stick to it.
Consider consolidating your high-interest debt into a lower-interest loan if you have a lot of it. By doing so, you can make your debt payments more manageable and pay it off faster.
Another debt-reduction option is the debt snowball strategy. This strategy involves paying off debts based on their size, regardless of interest rates. With each balance you knock out, you gain momentum.
Increase your income.
When you’re struggling to pay your bills, think about ways to earn more money. Consider starting a side business, taking on a part-time job, or asking for a raise at your current job. Increasing your income can have a significant impact on your finances.
Automate your finances.
Automating your finances is one of the best ways to stay on top of your budget. You can do this by setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account and paying your bills automatically. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about forgetting payments or overspending.
Invest for the future.
You can also improve your financial situation by investing. Over time, investing your money can help you reach your financial goals and grow your wealth.
Do your research and choose investments that are right for you among the many investment options available. If you need help choosing investments and creating an investment plan, you can speak with a financial advisor.
Manage your money.
Your bank account and financial goals will always benefit from wise spending. Also, it improves your sense of security and reduces your financial anxiety.
In short, take control of your finances by learning how to manage them.
Improve your credit score.
Despite what you may think, this isn’t irrelevant. Financial institutions, landlords, and vendors utilize credit scores extensively.
Following a few simple steps can help you improve your credit score. These include opening accounts that report to credit bureaus, maintaining low balances, and paying your bills on time.
Invest in yourself.
It is important to invest in yourself if you want to improve your financial future. Learning new skills, networking with other professionals, or starting a business are some options. And, of course, improving your financial literacy.
When you invest in yourself, you will be able to earn more and achieve your financial goals more quickly.
6. Change your mindset.
One of the most important things you can do to stop worrying about money is to change your mindset. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. Be grateful for the money you do have, and believe that you are capable of achieving your financial goals.
When you have a positive mindset about money, you’re more likely to make sound financial decisions and attract abundance into your life.
7. Share your financial goals with others.
People who share their goals with friends and family are more likely to achieve them, according to a Dominican University study.
Here are some advantages of specifically sharing your financial goals:
- Accountability. You’re more likely to achieve your goals if someone else is keeping track of your progress. If you are saving for a down payment on a house with your partner, for example, sharing your goal will keep you both motivated and contribute to your financial goals.
- Support. You can also seek support and advice from others when sharing your financial goals. Your friends and family can offer encouragement and advice if you are struggling to reach a goal.
- Collaboration. Working together with a partner or spouse can help you achieve your financial goals. By doing this, you will be able to save money and reach your goals more quickly.
As an added benefit, you’re more likely to make good financial decisions when you have the support of other people. Furthermore, sharing your financial goals with others can help you develop an aligned financial plan. As a result, your financial life can be more fulfilling.
8. Know what you can and cannot control.
Whenever you feel like you’re struggling with chronic worry, ask yourself, “What am I able to control?” By doing this, you will be able to be more proactive when you are able to make a difference. In addition, this mindset can relieve your worries when you realize you don’t need to take any action.
What you can control with money:
- Expenses. Budgets can help you keep track of where your money is going. In other words, you must track your income and expenses each month to make sure you are spending less than you make.
- Savings. By setting financial goals and creating a savings plan, you can control your savings. Depending on your situation, this might involve setting up automatic monthly transfers.
- Investments. Investment products can be chosen according to your needs and risk tolerance. Additionally, you can track your investments and adjust your portfolio.
What you can’t control with money:
- The economy. Your finances are affected by the economy, but you cannot control it. Job losses and income reductions, for instance, can result from a recession.
- The stock market. The stock market is volatile, and you can’t control it. If you diversify your portfolio and invest for the long term, though, you’ll reduce your risk.
- Interest rates. Fed rates are not under your control. There are, however, financial products that offer competitive interest rates.
- Taxes. Tax rates can’t be controlled, but you must pay taxes on income and investments. To minimize your tax liability, you should work with a tax advisor.
Your financial goals can be reached by understanding what you can and cannot control with money. It will also relieve money worries.
9. Have routines.
Setting money routines can also be calming. For example, check your accounts before you’re stressed. Ideally, this is at a time of day and place when you’re calm.
“If you’re only looking at your financial situation when you’re already anxious about it, then you’re reinforcing anxiety as the trigger for financial behavior. Having a calm environment while you think about money can help rewire your instincts,” Amanda Clayman, a financial therapist, told The Cut.
Knowing when to stop is also important. “For example, I create a schematic for my clients to consult when they get anxious. It includes opening your accounts, looking at your numbers, paying your bills, and making sure that everything is on time,” adds Clayman. “Once you get to the bottom of that list, that’s it — you’re done.”
Alternatively, you can use meditation, therapy, or exercise to treat residual anxiety.
10. Get professional help.
Speaking with a professional can also help reduce financial stress. Options include:
- Free financial counseling. There are many organizations that offer free financial counseling. A financial counselor can help you create a budget, manage your debt, and plan for the future. Find a free financial counselor near you by searching the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or by contacting the Financial Counseling Association of America.
- Government assistance programs. People can get financial assistance through a number of government programs. Basic necessities like food, housing, and healthcare can be provided through these programs. You can find out whether you are eligible for government assistance programs at Benefits.gov.
- Financial planning apps. You can track your progress towards your financial goals using financial planning apps. You can use these apps to track your spending, calculate your budget, and invest. YNAB, Mint, and Personal Capital are popular financial planning apps.
- Financial advisors. Working with a financial advisor may be a good idea if you need more comprehensive advice. An advisor can help you manage your risk, invest your money, and develop a financial plan. Note, however, that financial advisors typically charge fees.
What are some of the most common money worries?
There are a number of common money concerns, including:
- A lack of money to cover basic expenses like food, shelter, and transportation.
- Being buried under debt, such as credit card debt or student loans.
- Not having enough saved for retirement.
- Being able to cover unexpected expenses, such as a medical emergency or car repair.
- Giving children or grandchildren a financial legacy.
Why do people worry about money?
Various factors contribute to people’s worry about money. For example, some people may have grown up in poverty or have experienced financial hardship as a child. Others may be struggling with debt or struggling to meet basic needs. Some may be worried about how they will pay for their expenses in the future.
How can I change my mindset about money?
It is important to change your mindset about money if you want to stop worrying about it. Rather than seeing money as a source of stress, consider it as a tool for achieving your goals.
If you want to change your money mindset, here are some tips:
- Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. Even if you don’t have much money, be thankful for what you have.
- Visualize yourself achieving your financial goals. By doing this, you will remain motivated and focused.
- Repeat positive affirmations to yourself. It might be helpful to say, “I am abundant” or “Money flows to me easily.”
What if I am struggling to stop worrying about money on my own?
There are a number of resources available to help you stop worrying about money on your own. Consult a financial advisor, therapist, or counselor if you are experiencing financial difficulties. You can get help developing a financial plan, managing your stress, and overcoming any negative beliefs you might have about money.