Is there anything worse than being stressed out about money? Maybe it’s the credit cards getting out of control. Or possibly it’s the medical bills that you don’t have enough money to pay for. Now, it seems like every time you open your mailbox there’s another past due notice. You’ve stopped answering your phone when there is a number you don’t recognize—and for sure, you don’t want to listen to the lengthy voicemail they’ve just left you. You are stressed out.
You are not alone. In fact, over 62 percent of your fellow Americans report feeling stressed about their financial situation. In a 2017 report, Stress in America, money was the second most common source of stress, after concerns about the future of our nation.
Financial stress can affect your health
Experts have spoken widely about the harmful effects of prolonged stress. The report, Paying with our Health, talks about people with a poor financial situation being unable to live a healthy lifestyle. These people often turn to unhealthy behaviors to manage their stress and most report their health as poor.
What can you do about your stress?
Your stress is growing, anxiety and depression threaten to overwhelm you. What can you do? Coming to your rescue are these five steps to deal with financial stress:
- Create a budget: By far, the best tool to get control of your situation is a budget. A budget is a spending plan to help you decide how and where best to spend your money. Have debts? List them out. Add in your monthly expenses. Your income sources should be listed as well. A zero-based budget accounts for every penny and details your plan to save, spend and give.
- Start an emergency fund: Financial guru, Dave Ramsey, recommends building an emergency fund with $1,000 in it to cover the unexpected. And the unexpected will always happen.
- Get help: Talking with someone who deals with your type of situation on a regular basis will help give you perspective and ideas. An experienced financial professional can guide you through your best options. If Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed, collection calls will immediately cease and a clean financial slate will ease your stress.
- Change what you can: The Serenity prayer says, God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. Are there things that you can change to improve your situation? Can you make more money? Do you have a spending problem that needs addressing? Can you learn financial skills to make you more money savvy?
- Find the positive: This one is about re-framing the mental picture of your life. “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough.” —Melodie Beatty.
The important thing to remember about financial stress is that you have to do something. Money problems will not go away on their own. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take. The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you are not going to stay where you are.