The latest Stress in America survey cited money as the top stressor for 64% of adult respondents. It’s high up there with work.
Come to think of it. The rest of the stressors in the above image all relate to money. Economic and health concerns are aggravated by money problems. And this kind of stress can lead to anxiety. Not having enough money can make you feel agitated. Your brain may switch to fight or flight mode even if the threat isn’t tangible.
Of course, I’d suggest you seek professional medical help to handle this. But while you’re here, know that you can also do something to curb anxiety. You can start by taking the following money management steps:
Get A Realistic Grasp Of Your Financial Status
Many people get trapped in a cycle of debt because they don’t live within their means. This is the truth that scares most people. But it keeps on happening because something isn’t being done. I won’t pretend to know the reason why some resort to borrowing money. This is also not to judge anyone.
However, let me help you break out of it if I can. One of the things that have helped me manage my finances is a simple equation. Income = Expenses (Recurring and Immediate) + Investment + Savings. The math is simple. If you spend more than you earn, you’ll end up borrowing money to fund those excessive purchases.
Now, the equation may appear lopsided in your case. So you have to evaluate your financial status right away. For a start, do the following:
- Track your debt – How much money do you owe banks and lenders, other people, and other credit sources? List all of them in a spreadsheet or a text editor. You can also use a money journal beginning today. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just find a notebook you can turn into a financial diary of sorts.
- Monitor your expenses – Google Sheets or Excel should do the job for you. Whenever you spend cash or credit on an item, service, utility, or the like, make an entry in your document. Divide the entries into needs and wants or non-negotiables and negotiables. You can also download budget tracker apps like Mint for faster consolidation.
- Create/revise a budget – Use the debt and expense data to revise the budget you already have. If you don’t have a budget, create one now. It’s not too late to start this habit. Every month, review your financial documents and assess your progress.
If you’re suffering from money anxiety, paying your bills can possibly overwhelm you. Just looking at your credit card debt can induce panic from within. Such cases can also be true if you’re having money issues in general. So, in addition to the first step, strive to pay off your debt first.
This entails ditching the plastic cards. You don’t have to cut them and throw them away. But avoid using them except in emergency situations. And you have to strictly define what “emergency” means for your situation. The rationale here is that your income should be able to tide you over until the next payday. That is, if you follow your budget religiously.
Consider the Minimalist Lifestyle
Here’s a different tactic: watch a Netflix show. And not just any show. Watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. It features Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the duo who call themselves The Minimalists. These guys present a movement, lifestyle, or whatever you call it as an alternative to the consumerist ways we’re accustomed to.
It’s not a self-help crash course on making money or whatnot. But both the show and the site provide resources that will guide you to achieve sustainable living. And these days, sustainable living is not just trendy. It’s actually becoming necessary. Two of the main goals minimalists pursue are financial freedom and mental wellbeing.
Take Advantage of the Gig Economy
Sometimes, no matter how you compute things, the numbers always fall short. Maybe because you’re not earning enough. Or you’re the family’s sole breadwinner. Or some economic factors have driven up the prices of basic goods. If you think it’s still humanly possible for you to take on side jobs, do it.
The gig economy has been growing in recent years. This is thanks in part to advances in digital technology. If you have coding, production, or artistic skills, there are plenty of jobs you can apply to online. If you’re an expert in a field, you can even offer your services as a consultant.
Dealing With Your Anxiety
There are ways to deal with the root cause of your anxiety. If money is the problem, you don’t have to feel hopeless. Proper money management is just one way to keep this #1 stressor at bay. Don’t be afraid to try the strategies and opportunities presented here. Work on them one step at a time. And reach out to others if you need help.
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